National Parks At Risk
Why is it when some people see a picture like this they think, oh how beautiful, we should keep this just like it is forever. And then there are some who think, wow I bet there is oil under that lake and uranium ore in those rocks. Damn namby pamby environmentalist. We need to get rid of them and their stupid regulations.
Well they got one step closer to that wish today with the resignation of 10 of the 12 chartered board members of the National Park Service Advisory Board. And why did these 12 people resign. Their explanation was their position and authority had been marginalized under the Trump administration. You know, the one Greg Walden supports every step of the way, then comes home to Oregon to tell the voters in the 2nd district how he is fighting to protect and maintain public lands. In their resignation letter, board Chairman Tony Knowles, former Alaskan governor, wrote he and the other members have stood waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership, as prescribed by law. Our request to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team (Ryan Zinke) are not part of his agenda. There are over 200 boards in the U.S. that must, by law, have their charters reviewed, many are frozen because the Interior Department has yet to approve their updated charters as is legally required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Rocky Mountain Committee has been unable to meet for over a year. So on one hand Zinke tells people local input is important for BLM to consider. Then on the other hand he does not approve their charters so they can legally meet. In two other instances, Zinke disbanded committees. The Hunting Heritage Conservation Council was replaced by the Hunting and Shooting Sports Council, who emphasizes using our parks for sport shooting and promoting hunting. Yes, that’s right. Create a safe environment for the animals in a park setting, then shoot them. Another council, the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science, was simply disbanded. No great surprise there. Wait. I went to Walden’s town hall in Bend where he specifically said he was concerned about climate change. In a pigs eye he is.
The National Park System Advisory Board was established in 1935 and has held elected officials from both parties. It used to be both Republicans and Democrats shared concern for the posterity of our natural land. What is really fascinating is the initiative for our park service began with Republican Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president from 1901 to 1909. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. As a leader of the Progressive movement, he championed his “Square Deal” domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs. Making conservation a top priority, he established many new national parks, forests, and monuments intended to preserve the nation’s natural resources. Yes folks. Once upon a time Republicans were progressive. What the hell happened???
The utter disrespect and contempt for those people selected to protect and maintain our national parks gets even nastier. One of Zinke’s top deputies is taking advantage of the board resigning by taking over their office space in DC. A guy by the name of Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas (whatever the hell that is) is moving into the National Park Service offices, which they have occupied for over 50 years. A spokesperson for Zinke said they will be relocated elsewhere in the building. I’m betting in the basement next to the boiler room.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, made up of current and former retired Park Service Staff, sharply criticized Zinke’s treatment of the long-standing board stating: “This discourteous and disrespectful treatment of the board is inexcusable and unfortunately, consistent with a decidedly anti-park pattern demonstrated by Zinke’s department. Zinke claims he is pro-park and has a pro-park agenda. We are now convinced we are waiting for that agenda in vain.”
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