Letter: NPS following rules of authority



The Fort Vancouver National Historic Trust decided to vacate the Pearson Air Museum building, located on National Park Service land, instead of negotiating an operating agreement with NPS. NPS and the city of Vancouver have had a working agreement for the operation of the Pearson Air Museum, but the city has recently stepped away from that agreement. The city and NPS agree that NPS has authority on National Park lands, just as the city has authority over its property and the state has authority over state lands. This is reflected in several public agreements between the parties.

The Trust apparently believes that a private, nonprofit entity can operate on NPS land without oversight. NPS cannot, however, delegate its responsibility to administer national park lands to a private party such as the Trust. This would be an improper delegation of authority.

NPS, with its national expertise in visitor interpretation and education, could do an outstanding job of operating the museum, probably with city input and involvement. The Trust’s claim of power over NPS lands gives NPS no alternative but to reach out to partners willing to operate within the rules that apply to this and other units of the national park system.

William Back