Weekly Column of U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander "Protecting the Great Outdoors"

Posted on June 27, 2006

Last week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the National Park Service’s new Management Policies. Several of us in the Congress, in both political parties, had been very concerned about earlier proposed revisions of the park management policies which raised serious concerns about conservation and air quality, as well as visual and noise pollution in our parks. We expressed our concerns at a November hearing, and in February, I hand delivered a letter to National Park Services Director Fran Mainella, questioning the proposed new management policies. The National Park Service proved to be a good listener, which tells me that Secretary Kempthorne – who was confirmed as Interior Secretary on May 26 – is off to a good start. After considering our comments and those of the public, the Park Service has now produced management policies that appear to be consistent with the federal laws which founded the national parks and make common sense improvements to the policies. These improvements should make it easier for supervisors to manage park properties in consistent and appropriate ways. Some of the principles guiding the National Park Service’s development of the 2006 Management Policies are: · When there is a conflict between the protection of resources and use, conservation will be predominant; · A key tenet of park management is preventing the impairment of natural and cultural resources; and · Park resources should be passed on to future generations in a better condition than currently exists. I especially appreciate Secretary Kempthorne saying that “when there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for future generations and the use of those resources, conservation will be predominant.” That’s exactly what folks who care about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and our other national parks want to hear. There is nothing more central to the American character than the great American outdoors. We must protect our national parks so future generations can have places to enjoy our outdoors.