That's right! Get your Jet Ski ready to rip up some waves on Oregon's Crater Lake, the state's only national park. When you're done, stop by the gift shop in the park's lodge and buy yourself a crucifix and bible! Oh and forget about those boring educational forums given by the park's rangers that tell you about the geological and biological evolution of the area because evolution doesn't exist!
You think I'm joking right? Five years ago, I would have thought I was joking too, but times have changed and this is not a joke. The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has gotten its hands on leaked documents, which are revisions of "purpose" of America's National Parks, from the Interior Department, and things don't look good. Since the inception of the national park system the purpose of the parks has been to give visitors the experience of protected areas and to pass those protected areas on to our posterity, but Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary to the Interior and Bush appointee, sees things differently.
Hoffman is the author of the proposed park management changes. By the way, he has absolutely no experience or background in the national park system. Despite this lack of experience, Hoffman has been appointed to propose policy changes that will have a profound impact on our treasured parks. In Hoffman's world, which doesn't include input from anyone in the National Park Service, the purpose of the parks is not about protection, rather the supposed accommodation of activities that don't cause "irreversible impact", as noted in today's New York Times editorial:
Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks' purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to protect the national parks.
That means Jet Skis on Crater Lake.
Along with changing the mission of the national parks, Hoffman attacks science in his proposed revisions by striking out all references to evolution and evolutionary processes in the policy documents. If you've spent time in a visitors' center at a national park learning about the parks natural history, you're aware that it's all about science. Not only does Hoffman want to neuter science in the parks, he's clearing the way for religious kitch to be sold in the parks' gift shops, which currently sell national park specific items such as postcards, t-shirts, books, posters and other artifacts. You won't find a poster of Jesus blasting out of Old Faithful or Moses standing above the Grand Canyon with open arms.
For park lovers, Hoffman's proposals are indeed a bitter pill. I spent my college summers working in Grand Teton National Park where I made several jaunts up to Yellowstone to go fishing and camping. The husband and I spent our honeymoon trekking around the parks in southern Utah, and well, I love our national parks the way the way they are, have been and should always be. The assault on our public land is criminal, but I always believed our national parks would remain off limits.