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Salazar, Hon. Ken, U.S. Senator from Colorado
THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE'S REVISED
DRAFT MANAGEMENT POLICIES
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2006
U.S. SENATOR FROM WYOMING Senator THOMAS. The committee will come to order. We're going to have to manage ourselves a little bit this afternoon. There are a couple of votes that are going to go on here shortly, but we'll be able to work around that and I hope to continue the hearing right on until its completion.
Thank you all for being here. I want to welcome Deputy Director Steve Martin from the National Park Service and Mr. Tom Kiernan from the National Park Conservation Association to today's subcommittee hearing.
The purpose of this hearing is to receive testimony on the proposed revisions to the management policies that guide the day-today workings of the National Park Service.
I cannot emphasize the importance of management policies enough for setting a tone that influences the attitudes of park employees from the Washington headquarters to each of the seven regions and to 390 parks throughout the system. So it is a very important position.
The basic policy of maintaining national parks unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations was established in the 1916 Organic Act. This founding principle has been conveyed to the public and the park service employees in various directors' orders, speeches, regulations and other documents for the past 90 years. We must ensure that it remains the foundation of the National Park Service for the generations to come. This administration has set out to change the management policies in August 2005 and faced some strong public and congressional opposition to the initial draft. Specific concerns were identified in the hearing of the subcommittee last November through public comment that ended in 2006. Many comments focused on the definition of impairing, the definition of impairment and the relationship between the use of the conservation of resources.
The Secretary of the Interior, Gail Norton, settled the debate on March 17, 2006, in a letter, when she stated that when there is a conflict between the production of resources and use, conservation is predominant. Revision of the management policies got off to a rocky start, as usual, and there was great discussion about them, but in November, the Park Service has listened and responded to the concerns of the public and to Congress and I want to thank them for that. I look forward to hearing the testimony on this important issue. So, thank you, Senator Alexander. STATEMENT OF HON. LAMAR ALEXANDER, U.S. SENATOR
FROM TENNESSEE Senator ALEXANDER (presiding). Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is an example of several people, in my opinion, doing their jobs well. And as the chairman goes out to vote, I want to say this subcommittee's work has been a good example of that, because the oversight that we've engaged in, I think, has been constructive. The Park Service could have gone about its own management policies and just done it and then we could have complained it and tried to pass a piece of legislation, which we might have done. But instead of that, Chairman Thomas held oversight hearings, and we were able to have our say, so I thank him for that. I also want to compliment Steve Martin of the National Park Service and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. The National Park Service has proved to be a good listener and Secretary Kempthorne is there. We're off to a good start.
The earlier revisions of the Park Management Policies dramatically revised, in my judgment, the 2001 amendments and raised serious concerns about conservation and air quality, as well as visual and noise pollution in our parks, and several of us in Congress, on both political sides of the aisle, were very concerned about those amendments and said so. But the Park Service, as I said, turned out to be a good listener. They spent a lot of time, not just with us, but with—and I'm sure we'll hear more about this in testimony, but with the public and hearings all around the country. After considering our comments and those of the public, the Park Service has now produced a draft that appears to be consistent with the Federal laws that founded the national parks and, at the time, makes what appear to be necessary, common-sense improvements to the 2001 policies, which should make it easier for supervisors to manage park properties in consistent and appropriate ways. I especially appreciate the clarity of Secretary Kempthorne in his announcement yesterday when he said, as Chairman Thomas mentioned, that when there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for the future generations and the use of those resources, conservation would be predominant. That's what the folks in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where I live, want to hear and that's what I'm glad to hear.
I also would like to extend my thanks to the National Parks Conservation Association, which has been a big help in this project. They're not elected, as we are, and they are not appointed, as Mr. Martin is, but they care about the parks and they include a great many Americans. They waved a yellow flag and a couple of red flags, but they didn't just stop there and send out a fundraising letter, they made very constructive, specific comments and then when the National Park Service came up with a substantially improved draft, they gave them a pat on the back. As I mentioned earlier, a virtue is its own reward and a pat on the back is a nice thing to have when it's deserved and I think in this case, it is deserved. So I look forward, Mr. Martin and Mr. Kiernan, to hearing your comments today. I thank the chairman, and I think the people are better off as a result of this extensive process you've gone through. And I believe the Congress has done a pretty good job of overseeing this case. Senator Salazar. STATEMENT OF HON. KEN SALAZAR, U.S. SENATOR
FROM COLORADO Senator SALAZAR. Thank you, Senator Alexander. I, too, want to give my compliments to Senator Thomas and to this committee and subcommittee for having worked on this issue for the last year. I also want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the Department and to Mr. Martin and all of those who have been involved in taking a serious look at this issue.
For me, at the end of the day, I think what we have here is an example of bipartisan participation and the executive branch working with the members of the Senate and the House who had concerns about the initial drafts. And I think we ought to have more examples where we are able to find these very difficult, sometimes contentious issues and work through them to a result. That is a good result for the purpose that we are here for.
In this case, I think the purpose we are here for on this Parks Committee and the reason the parks exist is to make sure that we are passing on these crown jewels, not only for our enjoyment, but also for the enjoyment of our children and future generations. And certainly Senator Alexander has been a leader in doing it not only in Tennessee, but also around the United States. So I'm very pleased that the National Park Service has, in fact, taken into account and consideration the comments from this committee, as well as from the entire public.
I was particularly impressed yesterday, during the press conference, when Secretary Kempthorne set forth what he considered to be the principles guiding the National Park Service and its policies. Out of the ten points that he included in his press release, I think the first three of those points are worthwhile just to repeat here for the record.
He said and this is part of the document that was part of the press release entitled, "Key Principles Guiding the National Park Services Development of the 2006 Management Policies”—point No. 1: A key tenet of park management is preventing the impairment of national and cultural resources. Point two: When there is a conflict between the protection of resources and use, conservation will be predominant. Point No. 3: Park resources should be passed on to future generations in a better condition than currently exists. I think that in those three points, Secretary Kempthorne captured what really was a driving motivation between-for the criticisms that we were giving to the previous drafts of the policy and that