The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 26, 2014

Our View: Park idea a mistake

— Debate is heating up in Jefferson City over a Republican proposal to transfer Ozark National Scenic Riverways from the National Park Service to the state of Missouri and make it part of the state park system.

People living near the Current and Jacks Fork rivers are unhappy with a recommended management plan for the park, and they’re pushing to remove those rivers from the federal control the park has been under for 50 years.

A similar proposal has been introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo.

National parks have been called America’s best idea, and the irony is that it was Republicans who gave birth to the idea and nurtured it for more than a century.

In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that gave Yosemite Valley and a nearby grove of sequoias to the state of California as long as they remained open to the public. Lincoln helped set the precedent for the creation of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, eight years later.

More followed: Sequoia, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, Wind Cave, Mesa Verde — all with the support of Republican presidents.

What’s happening in Missouri needs to be seen in the context of a larger anti-federalist agenda that would also criminalize attempts by federal agents to enforce everything from federal gun laws to federal wildlife regulations in states such as Missouri and Kansas.

From Shenandoah in the East to Grand Canyon in the West, Republicans also have gotten behind other recent efforts to have their respective states take back national parks and other federal lands.

It’s sad to see how small some of those Republicans look today when measured against their party’s legacy. We think they would better off if they tried to capitalize on that legacy rather than kill it.

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