National Parks Threats Yield Political Watch
Group Warns of Growing Dangers to National Parks
- March 13 - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)
today released a "National Parks Watch List for 2003" that calls
attention to upcoming decisions by the Bush administration and
Congress that will harm the health, integrity, and future of America's
National Park System. The Watch List also outlines potential solutions.
have observed a disturbing trend of political actions and inactions
that jeopardize national parks, we have created this 2003 Watch
List to describe the most far-reaching threats to the parks,"
Thomas Kiernan, NPCA president, said. "The decisions by this administration
in the last several months are damaging to the national parks.
If this continues through the year, the administration will have
created a disastrous legacy in managing our national treasures."
Among the key
threats outlined in the Watch List are:
-- Air Quality
in the National Parks: Some of the nation's most polluted air
is found in national parks. Administration actions will allow
outdated coal-fired plants to avoid cleaning up, leading to worsening
air quality in our parks. In addition, the administration's so-called
"Clear Skies Initiative," as drafted, is less protective of park
air than full enforcement of the current law.
Park Land Giveaways: A recently issued Department of Interior
rule allows the Bureau of Land Management, without public comment
or a review of conservation impacts, to give away land in national
parks along rights-of-way claimed by state and local governments
and other parties. This action could cover some parks with a spider
web of paved roads or off-road vehicle trails.
Oil and Gas Leasing In and Near Park Units: The Bush administration
is stepping up leasing of oil and gas rights both inside national
park units and next to them, a threat to ecosystems, wildlife,
and archeological remains that will significantly increase pollution
in and near national parks. Parks at risk include Padre Island
National Seashore (TX), Arches National Park, (UT), Canyonlands
National Park (UT), Grand Teton National Park (WY), Glacier National
Park (MT), and Channel Islands National Park (CA).
the National Park Service: The administration's recent step toward
privatizing 70 percent of National Park Service jobs is disturbing.
Forcing the National Park Service to adhere to top-down privatization
mandates could be disastrous for our national parks.
"The Bush administration
is failing its responsibility for providing Americans with safe,
healthy national parks," Kiernan said. "National parks are a part
of every American's heritage. The administration has begun to
roll back the years of progress that have been made in protecting
parks and their surrounding environments. President Bush promised
stepped-up protection for parks during his campaign. So far, he
has done more to exploit the parks than to heal them."
included on the Watch List are a Bush administration proposal
to reverse a Park Service phase out of snowmobile use in Yellowstone
and Grand Teton national parks; possible congressional action
that would authorize snowmobiling in the wilderness core of Denali
National Park, where it has always been off-limits; the administration's
failure so far to keep the president's campaign pledge to provide
an additional $4.9 billion in the Park Service budget to eliminate
a backlog of national park infrastructure projects; and legislation
introduced with administration support during the last Congress,
and already reintroduced this year, that would treat national
parks as the special property of local interests rather than as
shows that the Park Service gets only two-thirds of the funding
needed to maintain national parks properly ? an annual shortfall
of more than $600 million," Kiernan said. "The administration's
failure to keep the president's pledge on park funding is a key
problem that leaves many parks unable to carry out their mission
adequately. They are ill equipped to confront threats such as
habitat destruction and dwindling wildlife populations and unable
to serve satisfactorily the countless visitors and thousands of
schoolchildren who request educational opportunities. Taken together,
the upcoming decisions and actions outlined on NPCA's 2003 Watch
List spell hope or decline for our national parks. Unfortunately,
without a change of direction, the administration's actions point
complete NPCA National Parks Watch List for 2003, go to http://www.eparks.org/take_action/watchlist2003.asp.
|Common Dreams NewsCenter is a non-profit news service
providing breaking news and views for the Progressive Community.
press release posted here has been provided to Common Dreams NewsWire by
one of the many progressive organizations who make up America's Progressive Community.
you wish to comment on this press release or would like more information,
please contact the organization directly.
*all times Eastern US (GMT-5:00)
Read our Guidelines
for Submitting News Releases
1997-2003 Common Dreams.