Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Mission and Guiding Principles
The Coalition participates in the national dialog regarding the management of America’s National Park System. The Coalition is considered to be a principal stakeholder in the planning and decision-making processes, a status that reflects the more than 11,000 years of experience in National Park Service management and operations that its members possess. The Coalition works with other interested parties to assure that management decisions made by current NPS leaders are consistent with the legislative guidelines enacted by previous Congresses.
We will speak and act for the preservation and protection of America’s national park areas and for the enjoyment of them in such manner that does not impair their resources nor their intended values and purposes.
As a unique, spontaneous coalition of principled experts who feel compelled to contribute to the protection of the National Park System, we will be guided by these principles:
- We will uncompromisingly defend the mission of the National Park Service, recognizing that, at times, no other entity may exist that is willing, or able, to do so.
- Recognizing that the National Park Service is the stewardship guardian of places that embody irreplaceable beauty, events and ideas that define the nation’s character—those places that deserve the highest levels of reverence and protection—we will make affirmative, principled, factual arguments that call attention to what the nation cannot afford to lose—the heritage it has placed in trust for future generations.
- We will defend the public’s right to know the truth about its National Park System—communicating facts and perspective to the Congress, to the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service and through the media to the public about how the National Park System is being managed.
- We will act to influence all parties involved to understand and act on the premise that appropriate management of the National Park System must be carried out in a nonpartisan way and must place the national interest above political, local and other special interests.
- We will work in a nonpartisan manner to help the National Park Service and the National Park System succeed. Success means that responsible officials of the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, and the Congress:
- Respect and properly execute the NPS mission, including all applicable legislation, court decisions and appropriately developed policy. They further respect and build upon the decisions of past and current generations regarding the composition of the National Park System and the standards of care for the system.
- Respect and protect the inherent values (including intangibles such as natural sounds, night sky, and visibility) and purposes of the National Park System and of each unit therein.
- Recognize, stimulate, and cultivate understanding of and reverence for the inherent values and purposes for which each unit of the National Park System was established, as well as for the system as a whole. They further recognize that this understanding and reverence should form the fundamental rationale for defining the quality of experiences provided to visitors and the relevant education of the public.
- Recognize and support the role of science and scholarship in guiding decisions and actions affecting mission and the integrity and future of the National Park System and its resources.
- Respect and develop the experience and wisdom of career professionals in the National Park Service and encourage, value and give appropriate consideration to their contributions.
- Understand that they must exercise moral and legal responsibility for protecting National Park resources, and in doing so, they must not be compromised or influenced by motivation for personal gain or power.
- Recognize that the National Park System constitutes an inalienable patrimony belonging to the nation’s present and future citizens as a whole, that the programs and activities associated with the parks extend their benefits throughout the public and private sectors and to the people of all nations, and that any risk resulting from commercialization or privatization of the national patrimony held in the public estate is unacceptable.
This urgent reiteration of traditional perspectives about the National Park System comes at a crucial time—when the public may decide whether to retain the benefits of victories painfully won over the past 130 years or to risk losing them to narrow, short-term, and private interests. The national parks and all they represent are more than national treasures. They are the unchanging measure of a rapidly changing world, repositories of information against which human progress or its opposite can be gauged, touchstones of who we are as a people and even as members of the human species, the best hope for preserving the cultural record that defines American civilization and the biological diversity upon which life itself depends. We, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks—privileged to have served the cause during our working careers, will serve it now—to project the gains of the past into a brighter and better future.