Congressional Leaders Voice Concerns Over Proposed NPS Director's Order 100

Congressional Leaders Voice Concerns Over Proposed NPS Director's Order 100

Read the proposed Director's Order 100 here.

Before he goes out the door, NPS Director Jon Jarvis is attempting to lock in an overarching agency policy that gives protection of the parks first priority. That would apply even if a threat were not clear and imminent. A proposed Director’s Order 100 – Resource Stewardship for the 21st Century – advances a key “Precautionary Principle.” “The Precautionary Principle requires that, when an activity raises plausible or probable threats of harm to park resources and/or human health, management should take anticipatory action even when there is uncertainty,” says the draft. The director’s order scarcely mentions uses except in terms of activities that managers should be aware of. Nor does it mention visitation often. The order does mention visitation as a derivative of good management.

Now, leaders in both the House and Senate – at the urging of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) – are voicing serious concerns about the National Park Service’s (NPS) proposed Director’s Order (DO) 100. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – is calling for a 60-day extension of the original 30-day public comment period based on her significant reservations about the potential impact of DO 100. The Senator expressed her concerns in a letter sent November 17 to NPS Director Jon Jarvis, saying that, while she respects NPS’ efforts to focus on preservation and restoration, those goals may conflict with other appropriate uses of parks set forth in the agency’s Organic Act. And Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, is also voicing his concerns. In a letter sent November 18, he urged NPS not to move forward with DO 100. Rep. Bishop has stated that, if issued without appropriate public discussion, DO 100 will be a strong candidate for repeal when the 115th Congress meets early next year.

According to ARC, DO 100 would create a new and very restrictive “precautionary principle” that would keep NPS from fulfilling its dual mission as described in the agency’s 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…” DO 100 would severely limit the agency’s ability to be flexible and responsive to its visitors’ changing interests and expectations. “As NPS moves into its second century,” said ARC President Derrick Crandall, “it must do so with a balanced approach to visitor experiences and protection, championing both park resources and the enjoyment of great experiences in the great outdoors.”

Read Senator Murkowski's letter here.

Read Rep. Bishop's letter here.

More background information is available here