Earlier this week, the National Parks Conservation Association congratulated Sen. Richard Burr on being appointed by his fellow senators as a ranking member on the Senate Committee on Energy and National Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, which oversees the national park system. Burr, a Republican, is a first-term senator from Winston-Salem.
North Carolina has a dozen parks and historic sites under federal management, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and, at the other side of the state, the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores. The parklands add up to nearly 400,000 acres.
NCPA hailed Burr’s July 25 assumption to the subcommittee as both good for the state and the southeastern region: “Sen. Burr has already demonstrated his leadership on national park issues by encouraging the protection of additional lands around the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site,” says Gregory Kidd, senior program manager for NCPA’s Blue Ridge Field Office. “We look forward to working closely with Sen. Burr in seeking practical, consensus-building solutions to the many and varied challenges facing North Carolina’s national parks and parks across the country, and seizing opportunities presented by the centennial of the National Park System in 2016.”
Despite the nonprofit’s hopeful tone, however, Burr’s environmental credentials may be in doubt; the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group League of Conservation Voters gave him scores of 0 and 5 percent for the senate’s last two sessions. His colleague Sen. Elizabeth Dole pulled down a similar score on environmental matters.
The next subcommittee hearing will be held on Thursday, Aug. 2, and is expected tol address the National Park Centennial Challenge, a plan to get the national-parks system shipshape in time for the service’s 100th anniversary in 2016.
— Kent Priestley, staff writer