Monday, June 19, 2006

Focus on conservation

From the Associated Press:

In a blow to snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts, the Interior Department issued new guidelines today that emphasize preserving natural resources over developing more recreation opportunities at national parks.

The guidelines reverse a controversial proposal last year that put more priority on attracting vacationers and recreation users beyond nature enthusiasts.

Conservation “is the heart of these policies and the lifeblood of our nation’s commitment to care for these special places and provide for their enjoyment,” Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said in announcing the new draft guidelines.

The new parks policy will become final in about three weeks, officials said. It is one of Kempthorne’s first moves after resigning as Idaho’s governor to take over the Interior Department less than a month ago.

The new draft emphasizes that when deciding whether to allow cell towers, ATVs, Jet Skis or other motorized vehicles, a park supervisor must consider whether any new use would damage not only the air, water, land and wildlife but also “the atmosphere of peace and tranquility and natural soundscapes” in parks.

It specifies that lands eligible for wilderness designation should be free from snowmobiles, ATVs and other motorized vehicles.

Read the full report here.

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