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Therefore, we would like to thank you for getting the ball rolling with the introduction of this bill, and we will be working with you so that there is greater visibility and that we will have something to really show our other generations in other centuries. Thank you.
Mr. VENTO. Thank you.
Mr. TINDALL. I feel like the cleanup man for the Baltimore Orioles, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. VENTO. It is a tough job. I don't think it is quite that difficult. I still think we can win this game.
Mr. TINDALL. I am not sure what my batting average is.
I will not bore you with a lot of the preliminary aspects of my statement. I hope I do not bore you with the conclusions either.
I might note that there are probably 4,200 to 4,400 local park and recreation systems in the country. Almost all of them have boards, commissions, advisory, policymaking, et cetera, appointed, elected, what have you. So, this issue is not really new to us nor to our membership
I personally spent time working internal with the National Park Service over several months as a consultant-strangely enough, on manpower and organization and policies. So, a lot of this discussion is sort of a deja vu.
I am not sure you intended this, Mr. Chairman, when you introduced your legislation, when it was put together. But what you have taken the lid off here of is an issue that is not neatly confined to the National Park System, the National Park Service, but sort of pours out into a variety of other national, institution, and resource management matters and manpower allocation decisionmaking and so on.
In fact, our trustees policy committee as recently as last Thursday and our full board of trustees last Friday discussed the issue of what we refer to as "a focal point” in Government for comprehensive policy, recreation park policy, structure, technical assistance, and so on.
While we chose not to take a specific position on full contents of H.R. 3964, there was a lot of discussion about this, both the elements of the bill itself and how it would affect other proposals of the association.
I mention some of the impacts or possible impacts on pages 3 and 4 of our statement. I might just say that a lot of the observations that I have heard from other witnesses today seem to suggest that a lot of the problems, if you will—this is not the internal managerial problems, to be sure--but a lot of the perceived problems in fact result from the fact that while people like to visit national parks, they don't know much about their management or their policymaking
or setting activities and so on. I would suggest that if you are going to look at a review board of some sort, we would strongly urge that you look more comprehensively at the functions of that board and the structure and representation on that board that may be desirable—and this may sound sort of heretical-it may be desirable to get 18 of the most heavyhitting citizens in America to serve on that board, not "professionals” or technicians or people who in fact think that they have all of the solutions about the National Park System or the National Park Service. Just a suggestion. We have different variations on that.
I would also raise on page 3 of our testimony-and this is not a newly held position on our part-your bill proposes that a person would be qualified in "natural and cultural resources." We are not quite sure that defines the range of talents and professionalism that ought to be brought to bear into the National Park System.
In fact, if you read the NPCA report, if you read almost every report on the national parks going back to the centennial reports and things like that, and special studies, most of what we are dealing with in one variation or another are people problems, too many people in one place at one time trying to do the same or essentially the same thing or enjoy the same kind of resource.
In a strange sort of way, it argues that a demographer or a sociologist rather than a historian or archeologist-no aspersions on my friend to the right—but all of these talents are available to a director.
The principal thing is that the person, man or woman, director or Assistant Secretary, secretary, whomever, has to have the right visceral gut instinct; they must want to do something constructive with the National Park System, the National Park Service. Failing that, I fail to see any professional qualifications that would in fact make them a good director, an outstanding director.
Your chief staff person will recall some discussions at my organization and his former agency last year about getting the Office of Personnel Management to professionalize certain ranger positions, and we in fact were opposed by the National Park System, and they ultimately prevailed on that one.
The irony is that a person with a degree, probably a Ph.D., in parks and recreation administration from Penn State University, North Carolina State University, University of California at Berkeley, and so on up and down the line, would not meet the technical test for a qualified person in the National Park Service.
The irony is that the job description for the associate director of the service with responsibilities that would grant administration planning, technical assistance and whatever, would not allow a person with a parks and recreation degree to qualify for that job unless they are a civil engineer or unless they are a landscape architect. They don't make it.
That type of perspective about what is or isn't professionalism has haunted in the past and I suggest will haunt people in the future if they do not deal with it in a more enlightened sort of way.
Let me drop down and quickly skim the rest of my testimony, Mr. Chairman. The bottom of page 4, the bottom of page 5, we get into some other things that we would strongly urge this subcommittee to look at.
I mentioned at the outset that when you introduced this bill you probably did not intend to take the lid off of other institutional questions, but in fact I don't think that you can fairly and objectively consider your proposal without considering some of these other situations, other opportunities.
The President's Commission on Americans Outdoors recommended an institution for leadership that would be a congressionally chartered private entity. In fact, throughout much of 1987 a large coalition of organizations probably 25 to 35 at one time or another in fact agreed on 13 consensus points, and they agree that there should be an independent-actually, two independent endowments, one that would deal with historic preservation and one that would deal with recreation and conservation matters.
The fact of the matter is—and I think that the history and the record is replete with examples on this, Mr. Chairman--there has been a very uneven fit between managing the National Park System and this wide array of other policies and relationships that far transcend the national park system.
We shouldn't encumber the management of the National Park System and pretend that they can be the big brothers of all park and recreation resources and opportunities in this country.
We would urge the subcommittee to look seriously at some of these other situations. It is not a neat fit into this legislation. It is not a neat fit into the heritage bill that you would begin to consider next week. But we would urge you, Mr. Chairman, to step back and take a look at the other institutional and organizational needs that in our view this Nation requires if we are going to give due attention to resource conservation and recreation opportunities in the future.
The irony is to cite one example this nation spends over $450 billion a year on health care-public costs, private costs, and so on. It goes up 10 to 12 percent a year. The Department of Health and Human Services is right now putting the wraps on a Year 2000 national health plan. To the best of our knowledge, no park or recreation entity in the Federal Government or even State government has commented on the contents of the plan.
The medical record is full of examples of positive relationships between recreation activity and health and wellness schools. Sometime-we suggest sooner rather than later—this kind of information should be in not only the health policies angles of this Nation but the recreation park goals of this nation.
There is too much money involved for us to neglect this kind of thing. I could go on at length on this topic. At the risk of boring you to tears on it, I would suggest that there are some other structural relationships on the last page, page 7, I mention one that we think is perhaps an alternative to these endowments that would be an administration for parks and recreation with three equal directorships, one of which would deal with the system, one with historic preservation, and one essentially with recreation policy matters.
Several of us have invested a lot of time and energy on these proposals. We have attempted on page 8 to outline some potential goals and functions that a new entity might do. The irony is that much of the authority for this already exists in Government. It needs to be dusted off in many respects and reexamined. What we need now is attention to the institutional relationships between them.
Thank you very much. [Prepared statement of Mr. Tindall, with attachment, follows:]
STATEMENT OF NATIONAL RECREATION AND PARK ASSOCIATION ON
H.R. 3964 TO CREATE A NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM REVIEW BOARD, AND
FOR OTHER PURPOSES, HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS AND
directly available for all people. We provide about 30 professional training events annually, and publish a wide
range of technical and citizen-oriented materials to inform
and upgrade the qualifications of our members. We are also recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Education as the
national accrediting organization for parks, recreation and
leisure studies curricula.
our organization combines the training, talents and
interests of about 20,000 people managing a diversity of parks, recreation resources and services in the United States and abroad. Our organizational roots extend to the
creation of the New England Association of Park Executives
in 1898, and the Playground Association of America in 1906. Our members are directly involved in the management of
virtually every type of local, state and federal park and
recreation system. They aid recreation experiences for the disabled in many settings; train our future recreation and park leaders; and voluntarily perform civic duties as policy
makers on park and recreation boards and commissions.
I mention this diversity today, Mr. Chairman, in part
to observe that there are people, innumerable talents, and
institutional arrangements required to meet the nation's
broad recreation appetite. We believe these experiences may be useful as you craft legislation to maintain or improve
the quality of the National Park System.
In fact, the
proposal before you today, directly and indirectly affects a broad array of federal laws, regulations, policies and
practices which authorize and govern federal involvement in
parks and recreation.
H.R.3964 recognizes that a review of the institution
which manages our magnificent system of national parks, and
which, in our view, should be addressed.
H.R.3964 is ultimately adopted, in essentially its present
form, it would have an important impact on other proposals