August 16, 2003

Ex-Parks Employees Take Aim at Bush, Ex-National Park Bosses Blast Bush

Here is a story from the Salt Lake Tribune that puts
those ridiculous, Orwellian
_resident-as-caring-about-the-environment photo ops
into their proper context. This story also provides
several new names to be scrawled on the John O'Neill
Wall of Heroes…Of course, "conventional [i.e.,
*convenient*] wisdom" among the propapunditgandists
(e.g., Bill Schnooker of SeeNotNews) is that the
Environment is not a top tier issue, but I think they
are very wrong, especially as the reality and dramatic
impact (economic, medical, etc.) of global warming is
ever more unavoidable as a news story...The anti-Bush,
whoever it turns out to be, need to run on SECURITY --
National Security (both a restoration of geopolitical
alliances and a real homeland defense program),
Economic Security (e.g, rolling back the _resident’s
disasterous and unfair tax cuts to fight the trillion
dollar debt he has plunged us into), Energy Security
(i.e. alternative fuel, re-regulation and a new power
grid), Social Security (yes, retirement income, but
also health care insurance and education) AND
Environmental Security (e.g., returning the US to
international leadership on the Kyoto accords,
restoring the credibility of the EPA and tending to
the now neglected national park system). Yes, the
truth about the Environment should be a loud and
central aspect of the campaign to oust this
illegitimate, incompetent and corrupt regime. The
anti-Bush must shed harsh light on the _resident as
radical right wing hit man for corporate interests
that want to deep six the decades old largely
bi-partisan environmental commitment of the US federal
government…That's why the LNS focuses not only on
stories about Fraudida, 9/11, Iraq, Enron,
corporatism, the capitulation of the US mainstream
news media, the batttle for the judiciary, and the nature of the Bush cabal itself,
but also on Global Warming and other vital
environmental issues...

Published on Saturday, August 16, 2003 by the Salt
Lake Tribune
Ex-Parks Employees Take Aim at Bush, Ex-National Park Bosses Blast Bush
by Joe Baird

A group of former high-ranking National Park Service
employees -- including five with Utah ties -- took a
Yellowstone-sized swipe at the Bush administration

President Bush speaks to supporters, Friday, Aug. 15,
2003, at the Santa Monica Mountains National
Recreation Area in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Bush reported
advances Friday on his campaign promise to spend
nearly $5 billion on upgrading national parks, but
critics said he was exaggerating the progress and
lambasted his environmental record. (AP Photo/Mark J.

Their charge: that the president and his Interior
Department have not put their money where their mouths
are when it comes to funding the National Park system.
And that their policies -- from privatizing more park
functions to allowing gas and oil drilling near park
boundaries -- are threatening the system from inside
and out.

"I've spent 32 years in the National Park Service, and
I'm not a particularly partisan person," said Don
Castleberry, a retired NPS regional director from
Omaha. "But in recent years, it appears that support
for the National Park Service has been politicized to
a degree that I never saw when I was working.

"The current staffing situation and operating budgets
are inadequate, and as such will continue to stymie
the park service from carrying out its mission."

The Washington-based Campaign to Protect America's
Lands spearheaded the release of Friday's letter,
signed by more than 120 former National Park Service
(NPS) administrators, including directors, deputy
directors, regional directors and park

Former Utah NPS administrators, including John
Lancaster (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area), Don
Gillespie (Utah state director), Fred J. Fagergren
(Bryce Canyon National Park) and William Herr (Golden
Spike National Historic Site) and Helen Dionne (Glen
Canyon), were among the signees.

"Never before have so many former employees come
together to voice their concern for the state of the
park service," said Bill Wade, a former superintendent
of Virginia's Shenandoah National Park.

In the Aug. 12 letter to Interior Secretary Gale
Norton, Wade and other participants criticized the
administration for failing to adequately address the
maintenance backlog -- which Bush vowed to tackle
during his 2000 presidential campaign. They also
protested what they call Interior's propensity for
"disregarding professional, scientific and public
opinion" in decisions and policies affecting the
parks. Finally, the letter panned administration plans
to privatize an increasing number of park service

Despite the goals and claims of Bush's "National Parks
Legacy Project," the letter says, "We are growing
increasingly concerned that in your policies and
actions, you are not living up to your promises, nor
to the ideals described in the mission of the National
Park Service; and most importantly, you are not living
up to the intent of the law."

The former park administrators took particular aim at
the park service's maintenance backlog -- estimated at
$4.9 billion, according to a 1998 report by the
General Accounting Office, and now estimated as high
as $6.8 billion.

The Bush administration claims it has spent $2.9
billion so far to address the backlog and has promised
to eliminate it over a four-year span. But critics say
most of that money was already earmarked for annual
maintenance, and that the administration's
contribution of additional funding was closer to $200
million to $300 million. The backlog has not been
reduced "in any significant way," said the letter.

NPS spokesman Dave Barna said Friday that he had not
seen the letter, and would not comment on it until
Norton's office was ready to respond. But at least in
terms of the maintenance backup, he thinks Bush
critics are off-base.

"There has been a shift in how the money in the [NPS]
budget is spent," said Barna. "The Democrats
historically have tended to grow the park system, to
spend the money on land acquisition. This president
wants to spend that money on maintenance. So the total
budget didn't go up, but the budget has changed."

© Copyright 2003, The Salt Lake Tribune.


Posted by richard at August 16, 2003 04:05 PM