Sunday, January 09, 2005


A New Paradigm for Federal Lands

Valles Caldera is something altogether different from a national park. It represents not only a fresh alternative to existing federal park and forest management, but a return to the original vision of national parks paying their own way. Whether that vision will be realized depends on how well VCNP responds to the marketbased framework created by Congress. Fed up with the amount of western land being consumed by the federal government and managed by inefficient bureaucracies, New Mexico senator Pete Domenici worked to ensure that this environmental purchase would not be business as usual. He had good reason for concern. As PERC has reported consistently, national park funding has increased over the years, but even so the National Park Service reports a $6 to $9 billion backlog of unfunded maintenance, acquisition, and resource management projects (Fretwell 2004). With most of their budgets coming from Congress, federal land managers traditionally work to satisfy the interests of politicians. They have little incentive to direct funding to its most appropriate uses, to find new sources of revenue, or to keep costs down to make ends meet....

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