Comment on the GGNRA Draft Management Plan/EIS
One need read no further than the introductory section entitled "Foundation Statements and Guiding Principles" (subheading "Park Purpose") to conclude this Draft General Management Plan (DGMP) is unlawful and fraudulent. The statement in question reads as follows: "The purpose of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is to offer National Park experiences to a large and diverse urban population while preserving and interpreting the park's outstanding natural, historic, scenic, and recreational values."
Congress established the GGNRA as a National Recreation Area, NOT a National Park. History tells us the GGNRA was never created with the intent to offer the traditional National Park experience. In fact, the enabling legislation for the GGNRA included several specific and unique provisions deliberately intended to differentiate this National Recreation Area from the traditional National Park.
Congress established the GGNRA on October 27, 1972 "to preserve for
public use and enjoyment certain areas of Marin and San Francisco
Counties, California possessing outstanding natural, historic, scenic,
and recreational values." (16 USC 460bb.) In addition to this generic
statement of purpose appearing in most national park statutes, Congress
included two "specific provisions" unique to the GGNRA.
The first provision states the park was established "to provide for the maintenance of needed recreational open space necessary to urban environment and planning." The only other park with this requirement is the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area, established after the GGNRA.
Second, the GGNRA statute imposes a unique limitation on NPS's
discretionary power for "management of the recreation area": the
"Secretary of Interior.. shall utilize the resources in a manner which
will provide for recreation and educational opportunities consistent
with sound principles of land use planning and management."
Significantly, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan
(16 USC 460x) is the only other park that contains the "sound principles of
land use planning" language.
For the GGNRA/NPS to refer only to the generic National Park language and ignore the provisions specific to the GGNRA's enabling legislation in their current Statement of Purpose is not only disingenuous, but counter to established law. "It is a well-recognized principle of statutory construction that contemporaneous interpretations of dated legislation are ordinarily given considerable deference when its meaning is later questioned." (National Rifle Association of America v. Potter 628 F. Supp. 903, 911 (D.C. Dist. Col. 1986).)
What clarifications were made contemporaneous to the creation of the GGNRA? The GGNRA was established in part through a campaign in 1970 by Secretary
of Interior Walter Hickel "to bring parks to the people", putting the
National Park Service in a movement to increase outdoor recreation in
urban areas (U.S. Department of Interior News Release, September 14,
1970). Consistent with the trend at the time, Congress explicitly stated the GGNRA was to be a "new national urban recreation area which will concentrate on serving the outdoor recreation needs of the people of the metropolitan region." The GGNRA's mandate was to "expand to the maximum extent possible the outdoor recreation opportunities available in this region." (1-1. R. Rep. No. 1391, 92nd Cong., 2nd Session (1972).) Clearly the GGNRA was not intended to be just another National Park.
Further, there were the specific representations made to the citizens to procure the voters' approval to transfer San Francisco parklands to the Federal government for inclusion into the GGNRA. The citizens of San Francisco were re-assured that the transfer was merely a "technical resolution" that would preserve recreational access. When voting for Charter section 7.403-1(a) authorizing the transfer of the city parks, the citizens of San Francisco were told that "the transfer of these lands is a technical resolution allowing the City and County of San Francisco to transfer city lands to the Golden Gate National Recreation area...a national urban park established in 1972 by Congress to preserve 34,000 acres of land and water in San Francisco and Marin for recreational use by all citizens." Aware that certain unique restrictions were included in the enabling statute requiring NPS to maintain "recreational open space necessary for urban environment and planning", San Francisco adopted the "technical resolution" authorizing the transfer of city parks for
"recreational use by all citizens." Allaying concern over the transfer of property, NPS promised the city that "historical recreational use" would be continued. To now assert in this DGMP a purpose for this National Recreation Area that is inconsistent with its enabling legislation and previous representations by the GGNRA/NPS to the public smacks of fraudulent inducement.
An Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between San Francisco and the NPS. The MOU reiterates the two unique provisions specific to the GGNRA which provide limitations on how the GGNRA is to be managed, and ensures the City's review and approval of park proposals.
However, GGNRA management has routinely over the years failed to adhere to the MOU. For example, in 1989 the GGNRA, under the supervision of Brian O'Neill, signed on to a UNESCO sponsored biosphere habitat program entitled "Man and Biosphere Habitat Programme" ("MAB" or "MAP"). This act, in and of itself, is in direct violation of the enabling legislation for the GGNRA. One would be hard pressed to find a philosophy in greater conflict with the recreational purposes of the Park than that of Peter Bridgewater, Secretary of the MAB/MAP Programme, who has said, "Earth would be a better place if we had no people." Moreover, the principles of the MAB/MAP program directly conflict with the GGNRA's requirement to notify and obtain permission from the City of San Francisco when any modifications to GGNRA property are planned. [footnote: It should be pointed out that the GGNRA signed on to the Biosphere Habitat Programme at a time when the President had withdrawn the US from membership in UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Congressional attempts to pass legislation that would outlaw the implementation of the MAB/MAP Biosphere Habitats are grounded in the legislative acknowledgement that MAB/MAP programs circumvent and /or eliminate public input in the use of public lands. Some 20 years later a different President rejoined UNESCO. However, just this year the US government has cut off tens of millions of dollars in annual funding to UNESCO due to its political activities.]
The requirements for notification, consultation, and approval from the City for any substantial alteration of the natural environment of the transferred lands is outlined in a letter from then San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne dated December 19, 2000. It is pointed out in this letter that the GGNRA did not fulfill any of these contractual responsibilities in 1995 and 2000 when substantial areas of Fort Funston were closed to the public under the pretense of habitat protection for the endangered Bank Swallow. These closures were not preceded by the requisite environmental review (NEPA) to ensure the efficacy of the measures to achieve the stated purpose. Furthermore, once the habitat project was completed, it proved to be detrimental to the Bank Swallow. Yet the GGNRA proceeded to close off even more property and repeat the process, once again negatively affecting the Bank Swallow. The premise of these closures to create habitat clearly was not protecting the Bank Swallow. The closures were, in reality, unlawful biosphere habitat projects.
It has become apparent that the pattern and practice of the GGNRA, in a broad scope, is to create habitat adjacent to historic recreational areas, then utilize the proximal existence of habitat to justify the elimination of recreation. The GGNRA/NPS believe if they redefine the GGNRA as a National Park in this DGMP they can proceed as if it will effectively change the enabling legislation and allow the GGNRA to pursue their habitat projects without reproach. The vague outline of the proposed management of park resources in this DGMP confirms the intended prioritization of habitat creation over recreation when they assert "natural functions and processes would be re-established in human-disturbed areas...". This directive could justify the removal of humans from any and all areas of the park.
The NPS has no legal right to change the GGNRA's enabling legislation. Only Congress can modify the enabling legislation for the GGNRA. And, in fact, the NPS/GGNRA are well aware of this fact, as they made an attempt legislatively through Nancy Pelosi to rename the Park and thereby modify the enabling legislation and end the recreation mandate in the GGNRA. Nancy Pelosi submitted bill HR 6305 on June 19, 2008. Much of the bill covers administrative details (allowing the Presidio Trust to move their visitor center, allowing a concession contract at the Maritime Historic Park). But buried within this seemingly irrelevant bill is Section 2 which is very devious:
SEC. 2. GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL PARKS.
(a) Name Change-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is hereby renamed the `Golden Gate National Parks'.
(2) REFERENCES- Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is deemed to be a reference to the Golden Gate National Parks.
(3) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS- The Act titled `An Act to establish the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the State of California, and for other purposes' (Public Law 92-589, approved October 27, 1972) is amended--
(A) in sections 1 and 2 by striking `National Recreation Area' each place it appears and inserting `National Parks'; and
(B) by striking `recreation area' each place it appears and inserting `national parks'.
(b) Change of Unit From Recreation Area to National Park-
(1) IN GENERAL- The Golden Gate National Parks, as so renamed by subsection (a), is hereby designated as a national park and shall be administered as such by the Secretary of the Interior.
To the dismay of Nancy Pelosi and the NPS/GGNRA, sharp-eyed park users spotted this change and under intense pressure from constituents, Representative Pelosi was forced to drop that section of the bill.
This DGMP should be discarded as it is unlawful. Through this document the GGNRA/NPS seek to change by regulation what can only be changed by legislation. Not only do I reject this entire DGMP as unlawful, but I call for a thorough Congressional investigation as to any and all illegalities perpetrated by the NPS/GGNRA in their management of this recreation area.