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an advisory council as well, which, in effect, consisted of the alumni of the board.
This was abolished by the Secretary of the Interior on the stated grounds of the need to save money. The cost of assembling the council twice a year having proved to be $16,000. With the savings of the $16,000, we also lost along with the process individuals who had been monitoring and who had become expert on the National Park System for periods as long as 40 years.
Thus, the board was reduced to the 12 individuals who served on it, and without continuity of expertise, because one cannot be reappointed to the board. One serves on it for four years and may not serve on it again.
Further, in recent years, although there have always been political appointees to the board, I am sure, it has been particularly noticeable that the qualifications have been more political than conservationist.
Mr. VENTO. In other words, interest group members have been appointed whether or not concerned from an objective standpoint. They have been from various interest groups.
Mr. Winks. That is correct. Very definitely.
Mr. VENTO. It is amazing that in 40 years of experience, a lot of people that had donated time were experts. People that generally had been appointed had been either past working in these areas of endeavor or in education and so forth.
It has a lot of potential. I regret to say that I am not more familiar with it. Judging from what has happened to the board in recent years, maybe it would not have been useful.
I do not dismiss the importance of that kind of board or to enhance that operation. If they had a budget and staff, it could be an important way.
Most of you who are working at this. You have regular employment and jobs. This is not a fulltime role in any case; it is more or less a voluntary activity working on the board there is no compensation for it.
Is that correct?
Mr. VENTO. So, if you do not appoint people who have various expertise, then you're not going to be able to develop in the context of work here.
I think you've been a helpful witness. Mr. Lewis, do you have question of Mr. Winks?
Mr. Lewis. No questions, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. Vento. You have been helpful. We appreciate the time. You have a time conflict and you have been patient in waiting for me to get around to bring you up. We look forward to evaluating more closely your written statement when it is submitted in the next couple of weeks.
Thank you very much, Mr. Winks.
Mr. Vento. We have a panel made up of some other groups, and we are very pleased that they are here.
First is Mr. Paul Pritchard.
Mr. VENTO. This is a distinguished panel of witnesses, some of who appeared before the committee on numerous occasions; others less frequently. But I assure you that we are very pleased to have your testimony.
And, certainly, Paul, the first witness, it is indeed the efforts by the National Parks and Conservation Association in terms of its publication “Investing in Park Futures,” which was certainly one of the catalysts that motivated me to revisit the issue of an independent or almost independent National Park Service directive.
I think there are many good recommendations in this document. I think that they are going to be, by and large, one of the reference points for the next decade in terms of dealing with parks.
I want to commend you for it. And for the other witnesses for their outstanding participation in various capacities.
Without objection, all of your statements will be made part of the record. Let me invite you, Paul, to begin your presentation on this panel. PANEL CONSISTING OF PAUL C. PRITCHARD, PRESIDENT, NA
TIONAL PARKS AND CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION; STEVEN C. WHITNEY, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARKS, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY; W. BOULTON KELLY, JR., GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA; AND NATHANIEL P. REED, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Mr. PRITCHARD. It is an honor to be here to support this historic piece of legislation. May I say at the beginning that while I would like to just submit our testimony for the record, I also would like to mention that there are other fine groups which we are honored to represent, including the Isaac Walton League, Friends of the Earth, American Forestry Association, American Rivers, Humane Society of the United States, and others.
It is also I think particularly important that, in the testimony this morning that we have heard, that we possibly refer back to that testimony.
So, if I may, I would like to be more-deal more with the specifics that were mentioned this morning as much as possible rather than-or in addition to my specific testimony as such.
And, Mr. Chairman, this particular document which you referred to and which I would like to also add for the record has now been added to by volume nine of this entire report, which details the specific recommendations that we made in that executive summary that you referred to.
And if I may, I think both of these are important pieces that should be made part of this hearing in terms of the information that
Mr. VENTO. Without objection, we will take those documents, and examine them. We will put them in the committee file.
Thank you, Mr. Pritchard.
Mr. PRITCHARD. Mr. Chairman, there are basic endemic problems that we think exist in the current system. Basically, what we have is not a squeaking wheel problem. We have a wagon with a square wheel on it. And that square wheel is the basic way we fashioned the way the National Park Service works within an agency, which it should be taken from in some degree or fashion.
Your legislation we believe appropriately addresses this problem head-on, as Dr. Winks has honestly stated in the way that it deals with it is not so much as looking at the past, which is fraught with problems, but actually into the future.
First of all, I would point out that the issue before us is the Department of the Interior's multiple use agency. Almost every other program, except with the exception of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has a problem that deals with multiple use and how it relates to the resources that it is responsible for.
In the 1940's, I am reminded, hearing the testimony this morning, of Newton Jury, then director of the National Park Service, who said:
If we are to succeed in preserving the greatness of the national parks, they must be held inviolate. If we are to whittle away at them, we should recognize at the very beginning that such whittlings are cumulative and the end result will be mediocrity.
I think that is the issue that we are concerned about, is that there is a very low level of tolerance in these historical natural areas for whittling away.
The second issue I would mention is again an historical one. And that is that the Secretary and the Director, the relationship has changed over a long period.
The Secretary and the Director in 1916 were one of a direct relationship between two individuals, a directorate reporting to a Secretary of the Interior. Today, as referred this morning, the Director now appoints through assistant Secretaries, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, other administrative elements of the Department, Deputy Under- Secretaries, Under-Secretaries, Administrative Assistants to the Secretary and, finally, to the Secretary.
The relationship again is not the relationship that existed in 1916 with the visionary legislation that was created in the enabling legislation for the National Park Service.
A third problem is that identified in Mr. Shankland's book, which we referred to on page 2 of my testimony. And while I disagreed with the statement made this morning that there has been since the Reorganization Act of 1950 an improvement in the relationship, Mr. Shankland pointed out in an historical way that those familiar with the history of the National Park Service and with the immunity it enjoyed from political appointments since its inception were deeply concerned over the dangers implicit in this innovation. That being the changing of the National Park Service's relationship, particularly since the threats that hang over the national parks and their scenic historic features, threats of invasion by industry and other forces just as destructive as their primary values never abate.
And I think that is the real message that those threats that you have wisely pointed out later on this morning are not only not abating but actually increasing. And they are existing threats.
And, finally, we would point out that this is not new. That is, that we take an agency out of another agency because we realize that things have changed, that resources need new support and new vision and new direction.
This has been done several times in the Department of the Interior. The General Services Administration was formerly part of the Department of the Interior. So was, I believe, the Veterans Administration, to us leaving the Park Service in the Department of the Interior would be much like putting the Smithsonian or the National Archives under another Federal agency such as the General Services Administration.
Mr. Chairman, it seems to us then that, basically, this morning, if I heard things correctly, there are two issues that we are talking about or two ways of resolving the problems, the first being the Director. And we think that Director Mott has made a yeoman-an outstanding effort at bringing about professionalism in a direct response to the mandate of Congress in leaving resources unimpaired for future generations.
But, even he is encumbered by the problems that we heard about this morning as have been previous Directors, and will continue to be in the future.
We believe that, clearly, with six directors having served in this position in 15 years, and I'm just talking about the past 15 years, we have a major problem that we are faced with in terms of senior management.
And these are very fine-all of them-very fine professional people, an average of 242 years per person is an inadequate time for any professional public administrator to really have an impact.
No. 2, and related to this, we believe that, therefore, the issue is one of Senate confirmation, which does seem to have some consensus. We also believe though inextricably related is a need for professional experience, as Director Mott and we agree, must be held at the Director's level.
And we would suggest that the term of office not just be 5 years but a 7-year term.
Regarding the Park System Review Board, which you have recommended and which we fully support, we think that the problem again is that there must be someone there watching after the resources for the American people.
The parks today have little tolerance. That is, an ability to absorb change. And change moves very quickly in our age and generation and will in the future.
We believe you and the American people deserve to have an annual report, as you have identified in section 1A. And we also believe that you need to have the direct and unencumbered recommendations in the budgetary process that come directly to you, as has been pointed out in section 2(d).
We feel that these recommendations and the right of the private citizens to know about what the National Park Service really needs is some, if not the most important recommendations in this. And we believe that this would still give the Department of the Interior, OMB and others an opportunity to make their comments and to give you separate counsel, as they do now.
We also would recommend as we have in this report that the National Park Service in fact be independent. We believe though that this legislation moves appropriately in that direction. And I guess I would say that we are 100 percent with this legislation and would like to recommend that we would like to even move it like 120 percent towards independence.
We would also suggest that this review board be expanded to possibly include others confirmed or rather or other members appointed by the House and Senate.
Mr. Chairman, this is the time for vision and not a time for partisanship and we appreciate the vision that you and others on this committee, Mr. Lewis, has pointed out, that there are others all around America that are concerned about truly representing and protecting America's heritage.
And we welcome this opportunity to work with you and the members of the Committee in fulfilling this vision and this dream.
Thank you, sir.