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Working with you.

BY THE TIME THIS LETTER IS PUBLISHED, we sincerely hope that your Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and your Director of the National Park Service are at work on your important tasks. We are ready to help.

First, the divisiveness that pervades the Department of Interior (DOI) must be eliminated. We agree when you say the DOI is a "mess"; in reality, it's worse. According to a congressional study done some 12 years ago, the major sources of degradation of the national parks were not the actions of private citizens, businesses, or state and local governments, but those of other federal agencies--predominantly bureaus within the Interior Department. For example, another Interior agency--the Bureau of Land Management--is responsible for permits for geothermal drilling that could impair, if not destroy, Old Faithful. This "whittling away" is not new, but it is harmful and must be stopped--not one act at a time, but by some lasting procedure.

Second, it is time to reemphasize that the key mission of the Park Service is to protect our nation's natural and cultural resources and to effectively interpret those resources to all visitors--not just collect entry fees from hordes of visitors on self-guided tours. The Park Service must be more than just a groundskeeper, directing people to a few pretty views and overnight facilities. Right now, some parks are trying to accommodate too many people, resulting in degradation of resources and of the visitor experience. NPS must do a better job of managing visitors so as to protect park resources and to provide the opportunity for every visitor to have a quality visit by offering a menu of NPS-led educational programs.

When NPCA was established 74 years ago, part of its mission was to ensure that the parks meet the highest standards. We will support additions to the park system that meet those standards. At the same time, we will oppose parks whose major justification is local economic development. It is not always clear which is which. We will work with you to make the right choices.

One challenge you will face is to define the appropriate role for NPS in communities where sites do not meet park system standards. Another is to find new funding sources for the parks; we have already pushed for higher concessioner fees. We will work with you to find other sources of money.

We are gratified to have a bold and creative team in the Department of the Interior. This may be our last opportunity to save the parks as we know them, to save the Florida panther, the California Desert, the drama of Old Faithful.

We will work with you to make it happen.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:letter to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt about the management of the National Park Service
Author:Pritchard, Paul C.
Publication:National Parks
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Tributes to women.
Next Article:Babbitt puts new focus on parks.

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