National Park Service advisory board members resign in protestOn January 17, 2018 by Kenna
Nearly all the members of the U.S. National Park Service advisory board announced their sudden resignations on Monday night, in protest of what they say has been a lack of engagement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during the past year. In a resignation letter, the members said Zinke refused to meet with the panel, which is legally required to provide input to the department regarding how to take care of America’s most treasured landscapes.
Former Alaska Gov. and advisory board member Tony Knowles turned in the letter of resignation for himself and eight others, citing “a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside.”
The other eight members of the board that joined Knowles include: Gretchen Long, Paul Bardacke, Carolyn Finney, Judy Burke, Stephen Pitti, Milton Chen, Belinda Faustinos, Margaret Wheatley. Just three members remain a part of the board.
You can read Knowles complete letter below (via The Washington Post).
In an interview with Alaska Public Radio, Knowles went a bit more in-depth about what drove the board’s frustrations with the current administration.
“The department showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education,” Knowles said in a phone interview. “And it has rescinded NPS regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.”
NPR notes that the nine members who stepped down were all Obama-era appointees and were scheduled to end their terms in May, anyway. But their public resignation sends a clear message of frustration with the way the Trump administration has bungled its way through managing not just the National Park Service but several other Interior Department organizations.
For example, the administration still hasn’t nominated anyone for Park Service director, and has proposed steep fee hikes for Americans to access many of the most popular parks in the system, including Yosemite National Park in California.
And the Interior Department faced backlash last year for omitting “climate change” from its strategic plan because, presumably, we have a president that still doesn’t believe it’s a problem (though the recent disappearance of climate change plans from national parks website was for a different, far better reason.)
As Interior Secretary, Zinke has pursued a pro-growth agenda, removing restrictions on drilling for oil, gas, and coal on public lands, and shrinking national monuments set aside by former president president Obama. Zinke is under investigation by his department for his use of private and departmental assets for travel.