Tuesday, April 18, 2006

National Parks about to be turned into Disneyland

New National Park Service management policies underfire, rightly so.

NPS is in the final stages of revising its policies on in-park promotion of corporate, organizational, and individual funders. Look out Grizzly bears, you're all going to be stuffed. AMFac and Xanterra Corp are coming to get you.

The first version of the revised management policies was leaked in August 2005. The second version contained many revisions, but critics such as the National Parks Conservation Association say it still jeopardizes park air quality and wilderness.
If substantial changes aren't made to the revised version, the parks will also be damaged by an increased emphasis on commercial and motorized vehicles, google the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees for that info.

NPS says the policy changes, which have drawn more than 50,000 public comments - mostly negative, are needed to address concerns such as homeland security, budget limitations, and urban encroachment, and that the integrity of the parks is not threatened.

NPS staff met in Denver April 10-14, 2006 to review the proposal, and a new version is expected to be sent out in mid-May 2006 for more review by NPS executives and an NPS advisory board. Park employees, but not the public, are then expected to get a 30-day crack at the policies beginning around June 1. The final version may be announced in the Federal Register around July 23, 2006. I'll put a link here later.

In addition to the management policy revisions, NPS is revising its direction on how to reward its corporate and individual sponsors. The revised Director's Order #21, which critics say would excessively commercialize parks, also drew thousands of public comments, mine included.

NPS says it has dropped its proposals to allow park employees to solicit donations; to allow placement of donor's names on surfaces such as paving bricks and benches; and to accept contributions from in-park concessionaire operators and the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms industries. The agency says its final version will allow recognition of funders through venues such as "discreet plaques" inside buildings, but that funders won't be given naming rights for park buildings or the parks themselves, and that no advertising or marketing will be allowed within park boundaries. The final version is expected to be released at the end of April 2006.

Many Senators and Representatives are weighing in on both of these issues. Some of these players are involved with the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks, whose planned April 2006 hearing on the management policy revisions has been delayed.

Stay on top of this one kids, it's important!

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