Are republicans trying to sell national parks?

This was a local paper's official editorial today.
Proposal would sell 16 parks, 23 percent of national parks land

Rep. Richard Pombo, California Republican and powerful chairman of the House Resources Committee, has proposed the sale of 16 national parks, including the memorial to former President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D. C.

No, it does not greatly affect the Great Smokies, Yellowstone or any of the other major national parks. However it would amount to selling off about one out of every four acres in the National Park System.

Bill Wade, former chief ranger of the Great Smokies and retired superintendent of the Shenandoah National Park, now heads the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. This watchdog group includes more than 400 park service veterans, accounting for 12,000 years collectively of park management.

Wade warned in August of a secret Interior Department attempt to rewrite and override 90 years of laws, rules and court rulings governing of the 388 sites in the U.S. National Park System.

It was first thought the sale of land might be some kind of spoof or practical joke. Especially the notion of a Republican Congress tearing down the Theodore Roosevelt Island memorial to the Republican president in the Middle of the Potomac River between Washington, D. C. and Virginia. It sounded preposterous.

With later actions, Wade says, it appears clear there is a full-scale assault being waged by Washington on our national parks.

It is estimated the proposal to sell parks lands would comprise 23 percent of the total park system.

Because it involves many of the lesser known parks, there is a likelihood there will not be a public outcry until it is too late.

Also on the table is the proposal for the National Park Service to commercialize parks by raising a total of $20 million in sponsorships and naming rights for park vehicles, trails, information centers and other buildings.

Most of the land likely would be used either for drilling or development.

We think this group is on target in expressing both outrage and astonishment of the sale of these 16 parks and rewrite of the National Park Service rule book. It appears aimed at benefiting energy and real estate speculators.

One doesn't have to know much American history to know that Teddy Roosevelt was the patron saint of our national parks. Destroying a monument to him for another condo high rise tops the list of the ridiculous.

We would suggest that readers reinforce their views in support of preserving our national parks to Rep. John Duncan Jr. who has been a stalwart defender of our national parks. You can phone either of his offices in Blount or Knox - 984-5464 or 544-0771 - or send a fax to 544-0728.

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