Latest national-parks policy draft drops worst of proposed revisions

The Bush administration has released its proposed revision of National Park Service management policies for 90 days of public comment. An earlier draft, written by Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Paul Hoffman and leaked to the press in August, would have required park managers to prove an activity would “irreversibly” damage park resources in order to ban it. This language is notably absent from the latest version. Some other dubious revisions have also been excised, like allowing more cell-phone towers and snowmobiling in the parks. Hoffman decries “anti-enjoyment” policies that over-prioritize conservation, but Stephen Martin, a deputy park service director, says “passing the resources on in as good, or better, condition to future generations is a key premise of the draft.” Parks advocates are largely reserving comment until they’ve had a chance to read the 277-page document closely. This seems to be an improvement on the earlier version, says a former NPS superintendent, but “a Woodsy Owl comic book would have been better.”