Editorial: Kempthorne a lifeline for national parks

"We have had our quarrels with Dirk Kempthorne, the interior secretary, on policy questions involving endangered species as well as other issues. But when it comes to the national parks, he has brought good ideas and real follow-through to an administration that has been long on promises to the parks and annoyingly short on results.

For starters, Mr. Kempthorne helped kill a proposed rewrite in the National Park Service’s management policies that favored commercial and inappropriate recreational activities at the expense of the parks’ historical mission of preserving natural landscapes for future generations.

He has also persuaded the White House to add real money to the Park Service budget. Annual deficits and steadily building deferred maintenance have taken a toll on everything from park roads and trails to visitors’ centers, while robbing the Park Service’s valuable scientific and educational programs of the support they need.

Mr. Kempthorne has also drawn up an ambitious National Parks Centennial Challenge, which is designed to raise $2 billion in private money and matching public funds in time for the Park Service’s centennial in 2016. The parks, of course, have always welcomed the contributions of concerned citizens, and private-public partnerships can do much good. But none of this should be seen as a substitute for the steady infusion of federal funds to a system that is a national treasure and a national responsibility."

Get the Story:
Editorial: A Lifeline for the Parks (The New York Times 5/21)

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