By Ann Hellmuth
Marking the 100th anniversary of the parks service, three leading environmentalists warned Monday of the need to elect state and federal representatives who will work together to preserve the nation’s parks for future generations.
“The next generation -- and us -- have to elect the kind of people who understand,” said Nathaniel Reed, Assistant Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Reagan and Ford and helped write the Endangered Species Act. “We have to persuade good candidates to come forward to join the battle.”
Reed together with Fran Mainella, the first female Director of the National Park Service (2001-2006) and a former director of the Florida Park Service, and Jim Stevenson, former chief naturalist for Florida’s state parks, spoke at the standing-room only Rollins College event, supported by the League of Women Voters of Orange County. It marked the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and Florida’s First State Park.
Mainella, Reed and Stevenson praised the League of Women Voters of Florida for its working in winning overwhelming voter approval in 2014 of Amendment One. The measure was designed to dedicate 33 percent of new revenue from excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. But the Legislature has failed to spend the full amount on the environment as voters intended.
“Amendment One is a classic example of what we voted on not being observed,” Mainella said.
“What has happened to working together?” Reed said, recalling how in 1973 Democrats and Republicans “came together to save the fishing industry” after President Nixon had vetoed the Clean Water Act. “...That would not happen today because of an atmosphere that is poisoning Washington.”
Reed said the Senate and House came together to override Nixon’s “ill-advised veto.”
Mainella said the nation’s parks are the future of the country. “It is really important that we are out there to protect the parks.”
Stevenson said the parks are “under the worst assault in 80 years…. Good citizens must act.”