Roads are the enemies

  Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt says he will halt all construction of new roads, hotels and entertainment facilities in national parks and monuments. "Roads are the enemies of national parks: They disrupt, divide and fragment," Babbitt said in a speech to Park Service employees on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. "Our task is to invite visitors out of their cars and away from the roads." The speech was part of Babbitt's initiative to restore morale and confidence in the national park system, which is still suffering from a $5 billion backlog in maintenance and resource protection projects left over from the Reagan and Bush administrations (HCN, 5/16/94). Babbitt also promised to defend parks aggressively from development outside their borders, and to manage parks as parts of larger ecosystems. To fund the new initiatives, the secretary plans to renegotiate contracts with concessionaires, increase park entry fees and solicit funding from the private sector and gateway communities. Environmental groups welcomed Babbitt's remarks, but said the test will be in making changes in the field.

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