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Don't blame the Park Service

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Michelle Nijhuis’s article "The Ghosts of Yosemite" seems to be little more than a rant against the National Park Service (HCN, 10/17/05: The Ghosts of Yosemite). Rather than dwelling on the threat that global warming poses to native wildlife, Nijhuis instead changes the focus to an unfair criticism of an agency that is hardly responsible for global warming.

A more insightful look at the Park Service might reveal that the agency is preoccupied with more basic battles. The George W. Bush administration is, by most accounts and according to most Park Service scholars, the most hostile administration toward national park preservation in the history of the agency. Nijhuis fails to mention the fact that Interior Secretary Gale Norton has now made all GS-13 and higher new hires subject to her approval, or that of Assistant Deputy Secretary of Interior Paul Hoffman. (The GS-13 level includes most middle-level park managers.) Never has a presidential administration extended its political reach so far down into Park Service ranks.

The first advice in war is to defend your home front, before you go on the offensive. The Park Service — without the help of High Country News, evidently — is fighting for its very survival. Asking it to take on the multi-generation effort to meaningfully address global warming is akin to asking the passengers on the sinking Lusitania to worry about the advent of World War I.

Woody Hesselbarth
Fort Collins, Colorado

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