CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Steve Stivers, who is running for a Columbus-area U.S. House seat now held by the Democrats, apparently aims to sell the entire national park system -- Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Tetons, Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon. All the nation's crown jewels would be slapped with for-sale signs. President William Howard Taft's Cincinnati home, which is a federal park, would be on the market, along with historical battlefields like Gettysburg, Bull Run and Valley Forge. Even Lincoln's birthplace. Other public lands would not be safe. Any federal land that has commercial value (the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico), "should be sold to the private business concerns that currently lease them . . ."
A candidate questionnaire for Stivers [the document posted above this item] indicates he would make a huge break from traditional Republican policies. Plunderbund broke the story about the Stiver's questionnaire earlier today. It focused on calls to repeal the 17th Amendment and eliminate statewide popular voting for U.S. senators, a backward-looking movement that would let state legislators and party bosses once again pick senators behnd closed doors. In other words, Stivers doesn't like people using the ballot box to make decisions. But the call for dumping the national parks really is staggering. Teddy Roosevelt, a great GOP president whose face adorns Mt. Rushmore, was the prime force behind the National Park Protective Act of 1894. Yet Mt. Rushmore would go the highest bidder. Teddy Roosevelt christened Yosemite "a place of worship" in May, 1903. At the Grand Canyon that year, he implored Americans: "Keep it as it is. You cannot improve upon it. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it -- keep if for your children, your children's children, and for those who come after you." Stivers, who has received financial support from House Minority Leader John Boehner's campaign committee, clearly favors limited government.
A conservative think tank, The Cato Institute, made similar proposals in the 1990s. The questionnaire answer attributed to Stivers is virtually identical to Cato's wording. A case could be made that it was plagiarized from Cato, which said:
"The Department of the Interior is responsible for managing the hundreds of millions of acres of land owned by the federal government--one-third of the land in the United States. Mismanagement of those lands has caused significant environmental damage--for example, to the Florida Everglades and the old-growth timber of the Pacific Northwest. Given his poor track record, Uncle Sam is uniquely unqualified to serve as a landlord. The Interior Department should be abolished, and those lands that have recreational or historical value should be sold or given to private conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy or the Audubon Society. Such groups would surely do a better job of preserving those lands than has the federal government. Lands that have commercial value--such as timber and grazing lands--should be sold to the private business concerns that currently lease them from the federal government or to environmentalists who wish to buy them for conservation purposes."
UPDATE: 9/19/2010 10:02AM -- In today's Columbus Dispatch, letter writer Ted Klupinski of Grandview Heights calls Stivers's plan to sell off the National Park Service a ludicrously radical idea. Klupinski wrote: "States such as Alaska, Montana and Wyoming, which count tourism among their chief industries despite lacking major cities or warm sunny beaches, would certainly be devastated by losing the national parks within their borders. Moreover, eliminating the national parks would be an affront to all Americans who value these treasures as part of our national heritage." And he wondered what it would be like if BP bought the Grand Canyon, or Disney put a Frontierland amusement park in the Great Smoky Mountains after buying the mountain range from the government.