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Snowmobile restrictions to remain in national parks
Los Angeles Times
The Bush administration on Monday reversed a proposed policy that would have opened some of America's national parks to snowmobiles and other motorized recreation and permitted increased commercialization.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne threw out a draft of the National Park Service Management Policies that would have weakened protections for wildlife and natural resources, instead restoring the longtime standard that parks must emphasize preservation over any other activity.
"That 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," Kempthorne said during a ceremony in Washington.
The new policy, which is to become final in three weeks, explicitly instructs park managers to maintain clean air, water and natural sounds, and not to allow any activities that might damage park resources.
The guidelines scrapped most of the changes called for last year by former Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Paul Hoffman, a political appointee who sought to include recreation as a core park mission.
Hoffman's draft, which downplayed the role of science in managing the nation's parks and allowed for religious references to be placed inside their borders, drew 45,000 comments from the public and an angry reaction from congressional critics. Of particular concern were policy changes that would have allowed snowmobiles to travel over any paved road in any national park in the winter, protected livestock grazing and mining, and weakened air-quality standards.
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