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A NATIONAL POCAL POINT POR PARKS AND RECREATION
Goals and Functions (proposed)
1. Provide a national focal point for citizen recommendations and review of receation and recreation resource policy.
2. Encourage and aid state and local recreation resource goals, plans and actions.
3. Leverage recreation opportunity and resource conservation from a wide range of national policies and programs.
4. Monitor and contribute to the enforcement of selected laws, regulations and standards.
Stimulate and recognize civic and professional leadership.
6. Annually report to the President and the Congress on desirable and necessary national goals and actions.
1. Encourage private actions and investments in recreation resources and services.
Efficiently manage & program of grants and loans.
Promote technical innovation and facilitate its transfer.
2. Encourage innovation and concensus in plans and management of national public recreation resources.
3. Undertake and assist special studies and research.
December 1, 1987
Mr. VENTO. Thank you, Mr. Tindall.
I did look at the last page, and I note that you also had three deputy directors called for as an alternative to the preferred creation within the administration-three new directorates. Of course, there have been different views of that. I think fundamentally the problem is that I want to know what I am building on. If I am building in a swamp, I don't want to just create all of these titles, which would be useless in fact these directors fall into the same plight as the past directors.
Mr. TINDALL. If you were to think about that kind of alternative, then the rest of your hearing is very apropos, how everybody works in that context.
Mr. VENTO. We did not do specific hearings on the President's Commission Americans Outdoors. I think if you recall, we said this is the format in which to bring it up, and in fact over the next couple of months-next week we have got major hearings on the heritage trust issue. Now we have specific proposals that have been introduced on it, and it is a little easier to do that.
We all knew what the problem was, but getting something hammered out legislatively of course proves to be very difficult. As it is with this proposal, because I think that there is obviously a lot of concerns about it. There are some misunderstandings. There are some that may understand it but don't perceive that there is the problem that I perceive existing.
Mr. Oaks, earlier I did use a little of your testimony here to point out to the director that there wasn't exactly unanimity in terms of his view of what the department's role had been in historic preservation. I hope I didn't get you into too much difficulty with that, but I thought it was necessary.
I think rightfully you point out that dollars can solve a lot of problems, but if I thought dollars alone would do it I would not have addressed the structural change type of issues. That is inherent in this legislation.
Do you think it is going to be confusing? We have recommendations now that come from an advisory group independently with regard to budgets, don't we, to the committee and to the Congress and to the President? Are you aware of that?
Mr. Oaks. The advisory council is making comments on the health of the preservation movement and what should happen.
As far as following through with that, it is so directed by Federal agencies as opposed to those who are at the heart of historic preservation, the same political incursions have occurred to a degree there. That is why I agree with Barry that we need to look at all of these options that are there. I think your beginning and opening up the conversations on all of the different options for how we might best organize for preserving both natural and cultural resources is great. I think the opportunity with independent agencies needs to be looked at because it is based on a lot of the concepts that are in your bill and simply, we think, takes them a step further, a logical step.
Mr. VENTO. I did not mean to interrupt you. Did you complete your statement?
Mr. Oaks. We thought that would simply lead to a better administration of the entire program, natural and cultural.
Mr. VENTO. I was getting at a little different point. I understand the argument for absolute independence, even creating or subdividing and providing independent agencies or directors for recreation, for historic and cultural, and for parks. You have to have them working together. There are not very many parks, as someone said, that are not in fact cultural. There are not very many parks in fact that don't have historic resources in them today.
I would remind you that when you're doing Sequoia-Kings Canyon, someone says the structures that are there actually qualify under the Historic Preservation Act. That increasingly is the case with regards, for instance, to the hotels in Glacier.
Mr. TINDALL. I wanted to qualify that the National Recreation and Parks Association is not advocating an independent National Park Service. We agree with you that it ought to be retained within the Department of the Interior.
Mr. VENTO. Or separate directorships?
Mr. TINDALL. Well, that presumes that that would all remain in the Department of the Interior.
Mr. VENTO. I understand that. We are keeping it within the Department to work with the other agencies and bureaus. The question is how do you give it the independence so that it has some clout.
The point is as I was pointing out in the advisory council on Historic Preservation that it makes independent recommendations to us, it doesn't seem to confuse Congress too much. I think we can handle more than one recommendation coming. It has not confused the administration. They have considered-continued to recommend zero. They would get maybe an A for consistency and an F for content, in terms of what I am talking about.
But I think it would be obviously appropriate and helpful. The real reason that they don't care about the advisory groups-you can appoint one for every park and a couple of more to go around-is because they don't have any clout. They don't have the clout because they don't have the day-to-day staff, they don't have the day-to-day commitment. Everybody is involved in trying to earn a living or involved in some other vocation, and they are not able to do it.
Now, of course, we are talking about not only appointing three board members that would be full-time, but they would actually have staff. They would be able to come before this committee. They would be able to go out in the field and have presence.
Admittedly, it is not much compared to the entire staff of the National Park Service, the entire professional staff there or, for that matter, to the political appointees in the Department of the Interior. They still greatly outnumber anything that we might create here.
Of course, these are not necessarily or would not be political appointees. Only the three would be political appointees. And within that staff structure you could have people with different expertise with regard to the National Park Service.
So, the compromise that seems to work is to say let's not make them full-time. Let's expand it, then let's reduce the staff. And I guess you could do that to some extent. You can reframe it. There is not magic about three. There is not magic about 18 staff members.
But if you start reframing that too much, I think you lose the effectiveness. What do you think, Nellie?
Ms. LONGSWORTH. I was about to say that I really think that if you take something like Manassas and use it as a measure, can we resolve the problem through the various changes we are thinking of making, I think one of the exciting things about Manassas is that it has caught on. People are concerned about what is going on.
I think people have general problems with the park, maybe the administration of a park or the long lines or they cannot get in. They are paying for campgrounds, but they also go off and share these things, you know, just within their immediate family.
I think there is becoming an opportunity for us to really bring this into national attention and make people realize that this is sort of an all-or-nothing kind of an issue that we are going to have to deal with now or we are going to start losing major parts of the National Park Service.
So, as we think about this, I hope that we can take this and measure are we bringing together the tools to management so that all of these resources—that brings in all of the resources in just one area.
Mr. VENTO. I agree.
It has been a very stimulating panel throughout the day. I think we have had good testimony on this, certainly lively testimony concerning this issue, as should be the case. I think everyone understands what the goal is that we are trying to achieve. Hopefully, this proposal, if successful, would help accomplish those goals.
I don't think that there is any way that we can substitute common sense for many of the provisions of law that are necessary, but certainly I think putting in place a rational structure that in fact adds clout to the National Park Service in the Department of the Interior is, I think, very necessary.
I hope we are able to resolve this. We are talking politically, we are not talking Democrats or Republicans, we are talking about the decisions that are made with less than or without any reference to the whole structure of the professionals in the National Park Service.
The problem is that eventually if you keep sending that message back that you are going to treat the product of the National Park Service recommendations, the planning process, as irrelevant, pretty soon what you start getting back is recommendations that are irrelevant. If that happens, I think the whole park system ends up suffering. The quality of people that are willing to do that is going to be different from that we ideally would like to be in the rank-and-file of the National Park Service.
There are no further questions of the panel. Thank you very much.
The meeting stands adjourned.
TUESDAY, MAY 10, 1988
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING RECORD
STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS
June 21, 1988
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
First of all, I would like to commend the Chairman for his steadfast determination in the pursuit of the protection of our national park system.
Mr. Chairman, this is my first term as Member of the House of Representatives and as a Member of this Committee and I have been appalled at the lack of support within the Department of the Interior for the National Park Service.
In the areas of NPS general operations, land acquisition for parks, Historic Preservation Funds and state grants, this Administration has a record that can only be discribed as disgraceful.
Our national park system is being assaulted from all sides. Developement pressures are formidable, oil companies are demanding exploration inside wilderness refuges, visitors to our national park system are at record levels.
At a time when we should be working together to protect and enhance what we have, I find this Committee constantly working to safeguard our national park system despite those who oversee the Interior Department. We have lost many of this country's natural treasures to short-sighted policies of this Administration.
I urge the Members of this committee to support the Chairman's efforts to protect the National Park System. And again I would like to thank him for his perseverance and hard work on behalf of our national parks.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.