Congressman Smith Grills National Park Service Director over Public Land Closures
WASHINGTON – Today, Wednesday, October 16, 2013 Congressman Jason Smith questioned Director Jonathan B. Jarvis of the National Park Service during a joint committee hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Oversight Committee entitled, “As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service’s Implementation of the Government Shutdown.” Smith’s questions centered on the controversies surrounding recent National Park Service decisions to close down the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) to the public, and also to require local churches to get permits to perform baptismal services within the park.
“The Missouri Department of Conservation has asked to open and run the national parks during President Obama’s shutdown. The state of Missouri even wrote a letter to the National Parks Service asking to open the Ozark National Scenic RIverway during the shutdown. The Parks service never responded to the request.”
Director Jonathan Jarvis of the Park Service indicated that Missouri’s offer to open up the Ozark National Scenic Riverway was not accepted because Missouri would not pay the federal government for doing the Park Service’s work for them. Alternatively, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also a part of the Department of the Interior with the Park Service, has complied with the State’s request, allowing Missouri Conservation Agents to access the National Fish Hatchery in Neosho, MO to continue normal trout stocking procedures.
Congressman Jason Smith also called the Director to account for his Park Service’s decision to require churches to apply for permits to perform baptisms.