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Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chair
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
Representative Betty McCollum, Chair
House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
Senator Tom Udall, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies
Representative David Joyce, Ranking Member
House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

 

October 9, 2019

Dear Chairmen Murkowski and McCollum and Ranking Members Udall and Joyce:

We are writing on behalf of over 1,700 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), a non-profit organization composed of retired, former, or current employees of the National Park Service (NPS). The Coalition studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of America’s national park system. As a group we collectively represent over 40,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural and historic resources. Among our members are former NPS directors, regional directors, superintendents, resource specialists, rangers, maintenance and administrative staff, and a full array of other former employees, volunteers, and supporters.

It has come to our attention that NPS leadership has received direction regarding the Department’s ongoing determination to reorganize the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and to also consolidate services provided to the BLM and other bureaus, including the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

We have expressed our concern to you about the reorganization of BLM before and now we are doing so again. We understand that the House appropriations bill contains language that prevents any appropriated funds from being used for reorganization purposes; and yet the Department continues down this path by declaring their intent to use unobligated funds to pay for the reorganization. As we have asserted many times, we believe the reorganization is not in the best interest of the BLM and other bureaus as well. In essence, the proposed reorganization does not address a problem, but instead creates significant harm in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. It is a colossal waste of money and will have serious, negative impacts on staff and their families.

Now, we have an additional concern about potential consolidation of services such as human resources, contracting, financial management, information management, engineering and planning, NEPA compliance, and more. Our experience with consolidation of services has not been good. It has resulted in delays in hiring, contracting, and necessary services provided by regional offices to parks. As you know, many parks are small and totally dependent on regional support to help “get the job done” and ensure our parks are able to protect and maintain resources and provide exceptional service to their visitors.

The Department’s position to use unobligated funds to accomplish this disastrous reorganization is very concerning to us. In our view, it is critical that you add additional language in the appropriation bills that will ensure that the reorganization does not take place. Such actions will have substantial impact on employee morale and the capacity to meet basic agency missions. And this will help ensure that our national parks are left unimpaired for future generations.

Sincerely,

 

 

Phil Francis
Chair, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks