Deer Are Fast, Bureaucratic Decision-Making Is Not

The Washington Monthly prides itself on being months or even years ahead of the mainstream press in breaking inside-the-Beltway stories—big ones as well as not-so-big ones. In the latter category is the problem of deer over-running and ruining the ecology of DC’s glorious Rock Creek Park. Two years ago in our pages, Timothy Murphy laid out the scope of the problem and why solving it was taking not months, as in nearby municipalities, but years and years. The reason is that Rock Creek is managed by the National Park Service, and is thus required to follow elaborate decision-making rules akin to those that protect snail darters. Those rules are also prey to protests by deer-loving citizens groups whose members include Beltways attorneys schooled in the art of slowing down regulatory processes.

Today, The New York Times reports that the slow-moving plan Murphy wrote about (using sharpshooters to cull the herd) may finally be approved by the Park Service in the next few weeks. But before the park’s denuded forests and the gardens of nearby residents get some relief, a budget for the program has to be approved. Unclear how long that will take. Welcome to life in Washington.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.