To the editor:
I appreciated reading your newspaper's May 3 editorial regarding the status of America's national park system. The points and recommendations that were brought out were right on target.I am writing to inform you of two pieces of legislation that are related to this subject and are beginning to be debated in the U.S. Congress.
Rep. Bruce Vento, D-Minn. introduced in early March H.R. 3964 calling for the "greater" independence for the National Park Service . . . insulated from the micromanagement of political appointees in the Department of the Interior." According to Rep. Vento, the bill would accomplish the following:
(1) Provide a presidentially-appointed director of the NPS for a 5-year term, subject to confirmation by the Senate; (2) Grant the NPS director all functions of the Secretary of the Interior regarding the administration of the national park system; and (3) create a permanent three-person review board to support the director.
On March 9, Rep. Morris Udall (D-Ariz.) introduced H.R. 4127 to create the American Heritage Trust to fund recreation, preservation, and conservation programs. Senator John Chafee also introduced an identical bill in the Senate (S. 2199). The Heritage Trust bill would accomplish the following:
(1) Invest the $7 billion unobligated balance in the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) and the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in interest-bearing government securities; (2) Automatically appropriate the interest earned each year by the Heritage Trust, unless the appropriations committees take specific action to obligate less; (3) Continue deposits from Outer Continental Shelf Lands leasing into both funds; (4) Allow Congress to make appropriations of more than the interest earned; and (5) End deposits when the HPF is five times its present size, and when the LWCF is four times its present size.
The Utah Heritage Foundation, the West's first private state-wide historic preservation organization, is on record in support of the latter bill. Foundation trustees are now in the process of reviewing and discussing the implications of Rep. Vento's proposed bill.
Utah Heritage Foundation
James W. McPherson III, Chair
Public Policies Committee