Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

America's Crown Jewels At Risk

Yosemite! Grand Canyon! Yellowstone! Denali! Everglades! What do these names have in common? They are all national parks whose names are known by everyone, the true crown jewels of America. And being national parks, they’re all well protected, right?

Wrong! The present administration, attuned to maximizing commercial profits and minimizing the public values of our public lands, has other plans for your national parks.

The Interior Department proposal to rewrite the management policies for our parks would topple “conservation of resources unimpaired for the future” as the mission of our national parks. Under proposed new management policies, the Park Service could:

· Allow increased motorized use in spite of air pollution, noise, and damage to the land.

· Let commercial outfitters keep caches and other developments in Wilderness.

· Consider increased uses of park resources just as important as “preservation” of these resources.

Sierra Club and other concerned activists commented extensively on the proposed damaging changes. Most comments can be summarized as follows:

· “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” and

· “Our parks need more protection for the future, not less.”

If the Administration listens to the public’s concerns, they will withdraw the proposed changes. However, we’re not counting on that! Although the first round of comments is over, the Administration, overwhelmed by the outpouring of public opinion, is considering reopening the comment period. Now is the perfect time to publicize our outrage over this attempt to shift our national parks’ mission from preservation to development and commercialization.

Please send a Letter to the Editor of your paper, and send a copy of it to your members of Congress. Here’s sample language for a Letter to Editor, to put into your own words.

(Start with some personal info and reason why you care about the parks or about one particular park that you like to visit.)

America’s National Parks provide some of the finest outdoor recreation opportunities, scenic wonders, and wildlife habitat. Millions of Americans and visitors from around the world flock to our parks each year. But the National Park Service’s (NPS) proposed rewrite of the park’s Management Policies would fundamentally shift how our nation’s national parks are managed from resource conservation toward commercialization.

The proposed policies fail to meet the current level of protection afforded our National Parks and eliminate reference to the mission to conserve parks unimpaired for future generations. The draft Policies would limit the agency’s ability to protect air quality and soundscapes, and control inappropriate motorized use in national parks. In short, the proposed NPS Management Policies are fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed.

National Parks are special places and should be preserved for future generations. The public doesn’t want more commercialization, more off-road vehicles, and other threats to our crown jewels, America’s great natural treasures. NPS should abandon its proposed changes and keep its current strong preservation policies.

Thank you for writing! The Sierra Club's brand new National Parks and Monuments Committee is working to raise public consciousness about major threats to our National Parks and Monuments. Let the Committee know you care! Join our network of parks activists. Just send an email to committee staff liaison Vicky Hoover (vicky.hoover@sierraclub.org) or Committee member Terese VanAssche with the Cascade Chapter (terrasolutions@hotmail.com.)

-- John Byrne, (Virginia), chair, National Parks and Monuments Committee