ARC Outlines Position on June 2006 NPS Draft Management Policies

There has been a remarkable amount of attention to – and misinformation regarding – the "final draft" of the National Park Service Management Policies issued in June 2006. Hearings have been held in both the House and the Senate and the draft has been the focus of dozens of articles in newspapers large and small.

Many ARC members are concerned about the dramatic changes in the "final draft" versus the fall 2005 proposal issued for comments by the National Park Service. Although the Management Policies do not alter laws or regulations, the document does establish a tone for decision making by the superintendents overseeing 390 units and providing some 270 million experiences annually. Often forgotten is the diversity of these units – from Wilderness parks in Alaska to urban playgrounds in Washington, New York and San Francisco.

ARC staff and members have voiced specific concerns to National Park Service leaders and others, and we are optimistic that our concerns will be addressed prior to finalization of the document. Contrary to accounts in some media and by some national organizations, we are not seeking expansion of motorized uses in parks or more cell towers. What we are seeking is fulfillment of the mandate assigned to the agency in 1916 by the Congress in its Organic Act:

"to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

The mission of the National Park Service has two, equal components: conservation and enjoyment by the public. While we agree that when enjoyment is incompatible with protection from impairment, conservation should be the priority, we cannot support the "final draft" which repeatedly references protection as the "core, or primary, responsibility" of agency personnel, nor can we support the document’s strong language advocating "natural soundscapes" for all units and advocacy of steps to reverse "biological and physical processes altered in the past by human activities."

For an overview of ARC’s position, click here.

To read ARC's comments on the June 2006 draft, click here.