Lorraine Mintzmyer, the former regional director of the National Park Service, has testified to Congress that a top Interior Department official told her political pressure forced the rewriting of an important environmental plan.

When the plan was rewritten, it was gutted - 50 of its 60 pages were slashed, and its major recommendations were rejected.According to Mintzmyer's testimony, delivered under congressional subpoena, there was direct political meddling in the agency's professional judgment about environmental policies. Her testimony also reinforces the charge that she was transferred from her position because of political pressure.

On June 29, the Deseret News published an article quoting Harvey D. Wickware, who was soon to retire as the director of the Park Service's southeastern Utah units, that he had no doubt Mintzmyer was transferred at least partly because of her pro-conservation stance.

George Berklacy, the agency's top spokesman, denied that political maneuvers were behind the change.In congressional testimony on Sept. 24, she states flatly that she was brought under political pressure and that a "Vision Document" to guide the future of the Yellowstone National Park area was rewritten to satisfy politicians who disagreed with the environmental protections in the draft document she helped to prepare.

It also links her reassignment to the political pressure.

Mintzmyer has served the Park Service for 32 years and was its only woman regional director. She hired an attorney to fight her forced reassignment from Denver to Philadelphia.

The testimony quotes Scott Sewell, who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Interior Department, as saying that the political pressure was relayed to the Interior Department by White House chief of staff John Sununu.

The day after she testified, Sept. 25, the White House denied the charge, saying Sununu knew nothing about the dispute.

According to Mintzmyer's prepared transcript, she started out in the Park Service as a secretary and because she often took dictation, even when she was regional director, she was still in the habit of taking notes during meetings.

She had her notebook and other papers on her lap took notes during a meeting on Oct. 5, 1990, with Sewell, whose responsibility with the Interior Department covered fish, wildlife and national parks.

"He began a lecture on the fact that significant political contacts and pressure had been made to the White House and the secretary regarding the Vision Document by political delegations," Mintzmyer said.

"He then stated that Mr. Sununu had personally spoken to him about this issue. He stated that Mr. Sununu told him that from a `political perspective' the Vision Document was a `disaster' and must be rewritten."

"He continued in that vein for a period of time. Mr. Sewell made it clear that he had been delegated by the department to retain the appearance that the document was the product of professional and scientific efforts by the agencies involved, but that the reality would be that the document would be revised based on these political concerns."

Sewell let Mintzmyer know he was upset with her personally because of the draft, which was a joint project of the Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service operating under the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee.

The draft of the Vision Document was released for public review in August 1990. Less than two months later, members of the Wyoming congressional delegation - including Republican Sen. Alan Simpson - met with Interior Department officials over the Vision Document, Mintzmyer said.

She said Sewell announced he had taken control of the writing and content of the final draft of the Vision Document. "He was emphatic as to this point," she said.

She said he demanded she quit taking notes.

She said she was concerned about the political manipulation of the document and the misrepresentation to Congress that it was a Park Service and Forest Service document derived from professional and scientific evaluations.

Afterward, she briefed members of Congress about Park Service activities. She was then informed that some member of Congress - she did not know which one - had told Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan that she was "lobbying."

"In a baffling turn of events, I was mysteriously facing a demand for a letter of reprimand and discipline (against her) at the insistence of Mr. Sewell," she said.

She felt threatened by that, and on March 21, Sewell's demand that she be censured was raised in a meeting with NPS director James Ridenour. "I noted that this was a groundless attack," she said.

By the time the Vision Document was released, it had been "almost completely rewritten . . . and in my professional opinion, its position on almost all major issues reversed," she wrote.

It was at that time that Ridenour's office circulated requests for information that led to her reassignment, she added.

The Deseret News contacted Sewell's office but he was unavailable for comment at that time.