USA. New national parks plan would limit public’s ability to enjoy their parks Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 June 2006
NMMA news:


A revised national parks plan released by Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on June 19 is causing concern for outdoor enthusiasts across the country. Rather than reflecting the appropriate balance of both conservation and recreation, the new plan seemingly drops the importance of recreation in the parks. The nation’s largest recreational boating trade association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), warned against this dangerous reversal in parks policy that would prohibit public use at a time in which park attendance is declining.

“Congress did intend for parks to be used and enjoyed by the public,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA Vice President of Government Relations. “The National Park Service cannot allow itself to be held hostage to those who argue for minimal public access. It goes against the spirit in which these parks were created.”

The National Park Service’s (NPS) management policies are of deep interest to the NMMA because the park service oversees many bodies of water popular with boaters. The proposal calls for a shift in power to park superintendents to dictate use policy often leading to arbitrary decisions. Rather than following the “best scientific information available” standard reflected throughout previous management polices for NPS planning and decision-making procedures, the new policy signals a shift to a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to public use in respect to conservation management efforts.

“Only the use of sound science should guide our nation’s parks for appropriate uses, not arbitrary decisions,” Fontaine continued.

A study released on June 20 commissioned by The Nature Conservancy found that attendance at national parks has been declining since peaking in 1987. This study found a direct correlation with people spending more time watching television, going to the movies, playing video games, and surfing the Internet to the decline in attendance. The study concluded that people, and children especially, are losing their connection with nature, resulting in negative impacts on environmental stewardship efforts because of that disconnect.

“This is especially worrisome at a time when we should be identifying and reducing the impediments to public recreation which do not impact the environment,” Fontaine said. “Public recreation and responsible environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. It is only logical to promote balanced open public access – when people see and experience the beauty of their national parks, they naturally are moved to protect these treasures and use them in responsible ways.”

“NMMA would like to be clear that it supports the efforts of the National Park Service to preserve the nation’s public waters and lands for future generations,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “However, we feel it’s important that recreational boating activities are given due consideration by the park service and not unreasonably restricted.”
Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 June 2006 )
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