As the National Park Service enters its second century, it faces many of the same challenges as other federal agencies. The two primary challenges facing the National Park Service as it moves forward are ensuring sufficient funding for the national park system from Congress and other revenue sources and keeping the national parks relevant to succeeding generations of Americans. Click “Read More” to read the full law review article from Coalition Executive Council member Donald J. Hellmann.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said he wants to outsource more visitor services, such as campgrounds operations, in national parks in order to save money. The Coalition believes such an approach is unlikely to reduce costs or improve service. Click “Read More” to see the Phil Francis interview on this topic in Men’s Journal magazine.
On December 14, 2016, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington found in the National Park Service’s favor in the case of Wilderness Watch Inc. vs. Sarah Creachbaum, the Superintendent of Olympic National Park, and the National Park Service. This case challenged Olympic National Park’s maintenance of historic structures in the wilderness, and the Court upheld the National Park Service’s decision to maintain all five structures. Click “Read More” to read the full Court opinion.
On August 23, 2016, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors denied issuance of key discretionary permits for the Soda Mountain Solar project under the California Environmental Quality Act. Soda Mountain Solar is proposed to occur less than a mile from Mojave National Preserve, where it would cause major unmitigated impacts to the preserve and the surrounding desert region. Click “Read More” to see how the Coalition’s work led to this success.
In November 2015, NPS issued an environmental assessment (EA) for a controversial plan that would allow an oil company to conduct an oil and gas survey at Big Cypress National Preserve using massive “Vibroseis” trucks. The vehicles, weighing 61,700 pounds each, would travel across the Preserve’s extensive wetlands, creating over 500 miles of new off-road vehicle tracks, including in some areas deemed eligible as wilderness. Now, less than four months after the 45-day public comment closed on that EA, NPS has issued a new (revised) EA and allowed only two weeks for public comment. Click “Read More” to see our full comments.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 included a rider that required NPS to consider a variety of changes to the 2012 final rule for off-road vehicle (ORV) management at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. NPS has published an environmental assess (EA) describing the proposed changes, all of which favor increased ORV access at the Seashore. Click “Read More” to see the Coalition’s comments on the EA.
Recent management plans at Big Cypress have mischaracterized the Preserve’s legislative mandate and shortchanged the amount of eligible wilderness in the 1988 Addition to the Preserve. A proposed new backcountry access plan and wilderness study (plan/study) for the original Preserve appears to be headed toward the same shortcomings. Click “Read More” to see the Coalition’s comments on the preliminary alternatives newsletter for the plan/study.
The most recent NPS planning document at Big Cypress National Preserve, an environmental assessment for a proposed oil and gas survey, surprisingly relies upon a disputed district court statement regarding the appropriate management of the Preserve. The court statement was challenged by the Coalition in a September 2015 amicus curiae brief and subsequently disavowed in a federal brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of NPS. Click “Read More” to see our letter about this issue to NPS Director Jon Jarvis.
On December 7, 2015, and crowning over a year’s worth of advocacy, the Coalition submitted comprehensive comments on this plan, outlining criteria by which a successful plan should be measured and expressing strong support for the NPS’s Preferred Alternative. Read our full comments by clicking “Read More”.
On behalf of the millions of Americans represented by our organizations, we write to strongly oppose H.R. 399, the “Secure Our Borders First Act of 2015,” in particular Section 3, “Operational Control of the Border,” and Section 13, “Prohibition on Actions that Impede Border Security on Certain Federal Land.” Under the guise of enhancing border security, Section 3 would further militarize natural areas and communities already glutted with border walls, roads and towers; Section 13 would undermine fundamental environmental and conservation laws and would allow further damage to the fragile border environment and the people and communities dependent upon it.