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November/December 2005

The Future Of National Parks

Everyone loves national parks--but are they being loved to death? Join representatives from the Park Service, Department of the Interior, Sierra Club, American Hiking Society, and more to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.


(Editors’ note: Late in August 2005, news media widely reported that Paul Hoffman, a high-ranking official at the Department of the Interior, had proposed and circulated a radical revision of the NPS Management Policies, the document that essentially spells out the agency’s mission, rules, and procedures.)

Fran Mainella In response to a request by Congress, we are currently reviewing the NPS Management Policies. This review was never intended to, nor will it, change our core mission. Contrary to recent media coverage, this document is not secret. A task force of 16 career NPS employees recently met to pro-vide recommendations on the working document. The document remains a work in progress.

Ron Tipton Potentially it’s a big deal. The proposed rewrite completely shifts the focus from preservation while allowing recreation, to a more permissive approach. It would allow as much access as possible unless there was irreversible damage to park resources. It now says, “There shall be no impairment of resources.” The park service is putting together its own draft. There has been lots of pressure for them to backtrack. I suspect this will go on for a while.

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