Interior Dept. unveils new conservation-minded park policies

New Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne scrapped predecessor Gale Norton’s proposed policy changes to national-park management yesterday, issuing a revised draft with much greater emphasis on conservation. Reflective of policies already in place, the new draft de-emphasizes recreation, allows park managers to consider the effects of outside pollution on in-park air quality, and states that air, water, land, wildlife, and “the atmosphere of peace and tranquility” deserve protection. The new policy, set to take effect in about three weeks after a public comment period, comes at a crucial time, as national parks are facing increasing danger from development interests, pollution, budget cuts, and convenience-seekers. “When there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for future generations and the use of those resources, conservation will be predominant,” Kempthorne said. We’re sorry we’ve made so much fun of your name, Dirk. You really pulled it out this time.