Friday, October 30, 2009

New Park Service director: Global warming is the greatest challenge ever to face national parks

Jonathan Jarvis, right, took control of the National Park Service this month with an $8 million maintenance backlog among a long list of ongoing problems. But Jarvis considers one problem to be above all the others: global warming. He describes climate change to Todd Wilkinson of The Christian Science Monitor as "the greatest challenge ever to face national parks."

Jarvis hopes boosting the agency's $2.5 billion budget will help fund scientific research and education efforts about global warming, Wilkinson reports. Jarvis, the first park service director to be trained as a biologist, says the parks could sequester carbon, serve as sanctuaries for species facing extinction, and bring to public attention the ways global warming is transforming the environment. His first goal, Wilkinson writes, is "to ensure that peer-reviewed science plays a foundational role in management decisions, especially in confronting climate change."

Among resource professionals, "He has credibility not only because he spoke out, but because he came up inside, through the ranks. He's not an outsider," Denis Galvin, a retired Park Service policy veteran, tells Wilkinson. "He knows the agency culture, its traditions, and its mandate for the American people. He didn't buckle under." Praise hasn't been universal, though, for the director who has "worn greenness on his sleeve." Chuck Cushman, leader of the American Land Rights Association, recently wrote: "Now, with Jon Jarvis in charge of the Park Service, the National Parks Conservation Association and their green allies have their best chance yet for an enormous park expansion plan, huge buffer zones around every park, and a multibillion-dollar land acquisition trust fund." (Read more)

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