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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2005

 

Latest National Park Outrage:
Plan To Sell Parks And Commercialize National Treasures

WASHINGTON, DC September 26, 2005: The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), a watchdog group of 425 NPS veterans accounting for 12,000 years of collective park management experience, today expressed its "outrage and astonishment" at a proposal by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), the powerful chairman of the House Resources Committee, to sell 16 national parks - including a memorial for a Republican president - in order to enrich energy and real estate speculators.
The Pombo plan is emerging just one month after CNPSR warned on August 26, 2005 of a secret Interior Department attempt to rewrite and override 90 years of laws, rules and court rulings governing the 388 sites in the US National Park System.
Commenting on the Pombo proposal, CNPSR Executive Council Chairman Bill Wade, a former superintendent of the Shenandoah National Park, said: "Between the Interior Department's widely panned rewrite of the NPS rulebook and the new Pombo plan to sell off about one out every four acres in the National Park System, it now appears clear that there is a full-scale assault being waged today by Washington against our national parks. As the people who have dedicated their professional lives to preserving America's crown jewels of the outdoors for future generations, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is today calling for a cease fire in the war against our national parks."
Wade added: "At first, we thought the Pombo plan was some kind of spoof or practical joke. For example, the notion of a Republican Congress tearing down the Theodore Roosevelt Island in the middle of the Potomac River between Washington, DC and Virginia sounded absolutely preposterous. Now that we know the Pombo proposal is supposed to be taken seriously, the recommendation to raze the peaceful haven of Theodore Roosevelt Island seems even more ludicrous and offensive.
Why would Congress consider even for a fleeting moment any notion of destroying a beautiful memorial to one of America's greatest presidents - and the patron saint of national parks - in order to erect another ugly, soulless condo high rise?"
The list of the other 15 national parks put at risk under the Pombo plan consists of the following: Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument (TX), Aniakchak National Monument and Aniakchak National Preserve (AK), Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (AK), Cape Krusenstern National Monument (AK), Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site (CA), Fort Bowie National Historic Site, (AZ), Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (MA), Kobuk Valley National Park (AK), Lake Clark National Park (AK), Mary McLeod Bethune Council House (VA), Minute Man Missile National Historic Site (SD), Noatak National Preserve (AK), Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (PA), Thomas Stone National Historic Site (VA), and the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (AK). In addition to these parks, the plan also calls for selling off a number of parcels of NPS land - undoubtedly for development purposes - in Washington DC currently part of the National Capital Parks. The National Parks Conservation Association estimates that the parks in question comprise 23 percent of the total park system acreage.
Wade noted that, in addition to selling off 16 national parks, the proposal also would require the National Park Service to commercialize parks by raising a total of $20 million in sponsorships and naming rights for park vehicles, trails, information centers and other buildings.
Wade noted: "If you want your national parks to look like the mile-after-mile eyesore of billboards and neon signs that clutter the four-lane road that leads into your city or town, then you will love the Pombo proposal. In exchange for $20 million, this proposal would require the 'McDonalds-ization' and 'Disney-fication' of every major national park. I don't think people will be too excited to see the Grand Canyon brought to them by a Honda or a Gettysburg battlefield festooned with a sign for Target. This is the antithesis of what the unspoiled and reverential tone of national parks, monuments and battlefields is supposed to be about."
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has been a vigilant watchdog in exposing attacks on national parks. On March 17, 2004, CNPSR exposed internal NPS memos directing park superintendents to slash summer 2004 park services and then to mislead the news media and public about the cuts, which were to be referred (and only if necessary) as "service level adjustments." The ensuing public uproar led to a widely publicized March 24, 2004 hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee of the US. House of Representatives.
About The Coalition:
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (http://www.npsretirees.org) is made up of former employees of the National Park Service (NPS), numbering over 425 and with more joining each day. Many members were senior leaders of NPS and many of received awards for stewardship of our country's natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members come from the broad spectrum of political affiliations. As park managers, rangers and employees in other disciplines, they devoted their professional lives to maintaining and protecting our national parks for the benefit of all Americans - both living and those yet to be born. CNPSR members have served this country well, and their credibility and integrity in speaking out on these issues should not go ignored.
CONTACT: Patrick Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or [email protected]


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