Another benefit of eliminating the excessive and wasteful NPS bureaucracy would be the transfer of policing of national park areas from the federal government to local authorities.
At the political news site Capitol Hill Blue, journalist Doug Thompson describes his chilling encounter with armed NPS goons in his article American Gestapo:
For the last two years, the Park Service has brought in its "CIT" (Criminal Interdiction Team) from Asheville, North Carolina, to police crowds that use the Parkway to reach the [FloydFest] festival. . . .Luckily, Congressman Rick Boucher, after receiving many complaints, contacted the director of the NPS, and the Virginia State Police took over without incident.
As I drove towards the site Thursday, I passed two CIT Park Police officers that had pulled cars over and were forcing the occupants to pull everything out of the car so they could search coolers, back packs, luggage, glove boxes and consoles.
I pulled off the road ahead of the second NPS patrol car, grabbed my camera and headed back to take a photo of the police action. As I approached, the Park Service officer wheeled around and pointed at me.
"Sir, if you raise that camera to take a photograph I will place you under arrest," he barked.
I identified myself as a working journalist on assignment and said I was simply covering a news event.
"Sir," he retorted, "this is U.S. government property and under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act you cannot take photographs of official government activity without authorization. Put your camera down now!"
I could not believe what I was hearing. . . . I asked for his badge number. He refused to reveal it.
"Sir, you have 15 seconds to leave or you are under arrest." He had his hand on his gun so I left. . . .
At the festival, patrons told numerous horror stories about encounters that day with the Park Service Police. One young woman was pulled over because she had beads hanging from her rear view mirror. They detained her for more than an hour while they searched her car and found nothing. Another young man was stopped because he had a bolt missing from his license plate frame. When the cops found no drugs or alcohol, they ticketed him for "improper equipment."
Sadly, this has been going on in the NPS for at least 40 years.
Ranger Gary Hathaway described the insensitivity, corruption, and ineptitude in the National Park Service's law enforcement gestapo in 1970's Yosemite. Some know the event as the Stoneman Meadow Riots.
On July 4, 1970, there was a riot in Yosemite Valley. We called it the First Annual Yosemite Rock (and Bottle) Festival. Rangers threw rocks and hippies threw bottles. People were crowding Stoneman Meadow in Yosemite Valley to death. We said you have to get out. They said this is a free country, this is our park, etc. We never bothered to explain that their impact was destroying the very thing they had come there to enjoy. We posted closure signs. They threw them into the Merced. We announced with loud speakers that the Meadow would be closed at a certain time. They ignored it. At the appointed time, we staged a cavalry charge across the meadow. We arrested hippies; they turned over police cars. One was burned. All because we couldn’t condescend to explain the reasons for our concern. Some park service employees, probably fewer than half, learned a valuable lesson that day. Most park service managers learned nothing. I knew from my experience in the army that "because we said so" is not reason enough for anyone to do something he doesn't understand. Hippies in 1970 were trying to say the same thing: "Why not?" If they had known why not, most of them wouldn't have done it. Hell, most of them had better conservation ethics than most of us.With deregulation, the power-mongering NPS law enforcement gestapo could effectively be replaced by local law enforcement agencies. Cutting off the diseased limb would prove the most effective way to eliminate abusive law enforcement practices in our national parks.
For the rest of the summer our entrance stations stopped and turned back "Hippie vans" like you saw in Forrest Gump. There were a lot of violent confrontations because a lot of non-hippies owned VW vans. Some idiot finally realized we couldn't turn the public away from a public park, so they devised a vehicle safety inspection. Rangers were taught how to short out brake lights so they could turn a hippie van back out of the park. Finally interpreters were assigned to the gates to smile and make friends with visitors, while law enforcement rangers hassled hippies who they perceived were troublemakers.
Law enforcement rangers spent the rest of the summer learning to ride police-trained horses to be used in crowd control in case of another riot. They practiced in secret in another meadow hidden from the main roads in the Valley. For several years afterward from Glacier Point you could still see the "pony ring" they trampled in the meadow. That was OK, though. They stopped those hippies from trampling Stoneman Meadow!