On September 15, 2002, a great wailing and gnashing of teeth will be heard from Lake Powell. That's the day that the National Park Service will slam the door in the faces of thousands of Personal Water Craft (PWC) users by banning them from the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
How can such draconian actions be taken, especially without any public input or lengthy environmental assessment process? Simply because the National Park Service cares nothing about flushing the rights of these tens of thousands of people down the drain!
This sorry situation had its genesis in the lawless Clinton/Gore administration, only one of many time bombs left strewn about that will threaten public lands and lakes access for years to come. The NPS wrote politically inspired rules that ended PWC use on most of their properties but continued conditional use on the remainder. Then, when confronted with a bogus lawsuit brought by radical environmental groups that openly advocate ending all motorized use on NPS properties, the "service" caved in and settled without any fight at all. In essence they said, "yeah, you're right, these pesky little critters are destroying the fragile park environment so we'll just kick them all out". And so they reached a friendly, contrived settlement that provided the mechanism to end PWC use on Lake Powell 87 units out of 379 in the NPS system had allowed motorized boating. Of these 66 were permanently closed to PWC's as of April 22, 2000. Half of the remaining 21 units, including Lake Powell were given until September 15,2002 to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that proved this use imparted NO harm to the park environment.
It should be noted that this, in itself, is an impossible standard. Harm is a subjective concept, defined largely in the mind of the observer. In its most benign state, harm might be defined as "impact". Clearly, no human activity of any kind will be devoid of some sort of "impact". So the cards were stacked against the PWC users and they didn't even know it.
But even this was not enough for the NPS in their collusive alliance with the radical environmental "kick them out" groups. As the deadline drew near, they announced that "shucks, we don't have enough time to do our job so guess what? We're just going to kick all you folks out!"
So by entering into a bad faith settlement and then just by doing nothing, the NPS will have succeeded in extinguishing the recreational rights of a substantial portion of its constituents!
Those among you who might say, "I'm glad they got rid of those noisy and pesky jet skiis", you'd better think again. PWC's are just small boats with two-stoke engines.
If small boats with two-stroke engines are causing so much harm, what about large boats with two-stroke engines?
The radical environmental groups have made no secret about their next target: All outboard motors.
Then it will be the four-stroke motors and, with the engines, the end of motorized recreation on Lake Powell.
Having neutralized this constituency, would it be inconceivable for the Sierra Club to finally realize the group's impossible dream: The draining of the lake and the destruction of the Glen Canyon Dam?
An investment of $100 billion will be sacrificed at the altar of environmentalism gone mad.
We have been forced to watch while the strategy succeeded many times.
I call on the Bush administration to immediately launch an investigation into the National Park Service and the policies that have brought the nation and the general public to this sorry state.
The park service personnel who wrote the rules and who negotiated the settlement should be fired or, in may opinion at the very least, demoted and banished to where they could do no further harm.
The same applies to the members of the management of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area who couldn't find the time to protect the rights of their constituents.
Who can believe that the National Park Service is not badly in need of reform?
The federal agency's staff members have catered to special interests groups for too long.
While the staff members wring their hands about the imagined impacts of PWCs, I believe that the beaches of Lake Powell and the entire Colorado River system are being destroyed by the Tamarisk invasion.
It's time the National Park Service took another look at the Organic Act, reorder the federal agency's priorities and begin to serve the needs of the bulk of the American people who prefer the use of vehicles to access and recreate on the public lands and lakes.