I’m not going to add any of my own thoughts on this, other than to note the amazing distance between the positions of recent press releases by the National Park Service and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. It’s a real jaw-dropper.
PEER, FYI, is a national alliance of local, state and federal resource professionals. The group’s environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members rather than by any agency policies or directives or political considerations.
The National Park Service release begins:“Holiday in the National Parks” Celebrated at the White House (Washington, DC) – America’s national parks are the focus of this year’s elaborate White House holiday decorations. The remarkable displays of “Holiday in the National Parks” highlight the majesty, history, and diversity of the country’s 391 National Park Service sites. “It is an amazing honor for the National Park Service to be selected as the theme for the White House holiday decorations by the President and Mrs. Bush,” said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. “Mrs. Bush is the best champion for our national parks, and the beautiful decorations in each state room showcase the natural and historical treasures found in parks throughout the country.”
“National Parks commemorate the people, places, and events that define the American experience,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “I am so appreciative of President Bush’s efforts to recognize the important role of national parks in American society. Our country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and the President has been instrumental in establishing a Centennial Initiative to prepare the parks for the next century.”
You can read the whole thing at the Park Service's newsroom.
The PEER release notes:Washington, DC — The centerpiece of the Bush administration plan for national parks, the Centennial Initiative, may actually worsen a growing backlog of deferred maintenance and skew priorities toward questionable projects pushed by donors, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Few if any of the projects selected in the first round of Centennial projects are on the park service maintenance backlog list. On August 25, 2006, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne unveiled the initiative in which one hundred million dollars in private donations would be matched by federal funds, every year for ten years beginning in Fiscal Year 2008 and continuing through 2016 – the centennial year of the national park system. In August 2007, the National Park Service (NPS) announced over 200 projects that qualified for inclusion in the Initiative’s first year. A review by PEER points out that— There is little overlap between selected Centennial projects and the ballooning NPS deferred maintenance backlog, now estimated by park officials at approximately $8 billion;
New visitor centers, trails and other infrastructure funded by the initiative will add to park maintenance needs;
You can read the whole thing at: the PEER newsroom.