Maryville Daily Times - Thomas Fraser
Sen. Lamar Alexander has again joined the chorus of protest criticizing plans to overhaul the National Park Service's management guidelines.
``I am not convinced that the rewrite process is even necessary at this time,'' Alexander wrote National Park Service Director Fran Mainella in a letter dated Thursday.
The comments were submitted as part of the ongoing public comment process on the proposed changes.
He wrote in the letter he had ``significant concerns'' with the draft rewrite of the Park Service's ``Management Policies'' document.
He goes on to outline his concerns about ``three core issues'' he fears may be impacted by the revision of the management guidelines. They are, he wrote, ``the predominant role of conservation ... the Park Service's role in protecting park air quality, and ... the importance of preserving peace, quiet and tranquillity -- natural sounds -- as part of the park mission.''
In a statement released by his office Thursday, Alexander said: ``The National Park Service's plan to rewrite its management policies reduces the importance of conservation, impairs park air quality, and increases the likelihood of noise pollution.
Alexander, who owns property in Walland near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is vice chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. He first raised concerns about the policy revisions -- roundly criticized by environmentalists and national parks advocates including the National Park Conservation Association -- during a November 2005 subcommittee meeting.
The Maryville native is a Republican who has found himself on occasion opposed to Bush administration policies on environmental issues, namely air pollution control strategies.