3/4 of a National Park Advisory Council Resign in Protest

3/4 of a National Park Advisory Council Resign in Protest

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Pictured: U.S. Secretary of the Interior (then Congressman) Ryan Zinke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

9 of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned their posts Monday night in protest of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s treatment, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

According to the NPS website, the board, which was established in 1935, is made up of “citizen advisors chartered by Congress to help the National Park Service care for special places saved by the American people so that all my experience our heritage.”

The departing members penned a letter to Zinke, saying they have “stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership … as prescribed by law.” All signatories had terms set to expire this May.

“We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda,” board chairman Tony Knowles wrote in the letter obtained by the Post. “I wish the National Park System and Service well and will always be dedicated to their success.”

Knowles told the Post that the board hasn’t held a meeting since President Trump took office last January despite the board being required by law to meet two times each year.

“We were frozen out,” Knowles told the newspaper.

Another board member, Gretchen Long, told The Post that departing board members resigned because they were concerned that its work “could be so summarily dismissed” by the Trump administration. “We worry greatly that the new initiatives incorporated in the [National Park System] are now being rescinded,” Long told The Post.

The Post also reports that some advisory bodies are operating, however, there are some still frozen because the department has yet to approve their updated charters, an act that is legally required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Of the 38 Bureau of Land Management resource advisory councils, Rocky Mountain and Southwest Colorado had to postpone meetings scheduled for Thursday because their charters were out of date. Other panels, such as the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, have been reinstated but are still awaiting department approval for their agendas.

According to an earlier email this month requesting status on the more than 200 boards that had come under review, Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said “boards have restarted.” She did not provide any further details and did not respond to the Post’s request for comment on the board members’ departure.

Zinke has frequently met with an advisory committee he formed in the fall of 2017 composed of RV and outdoor industry business interests, but has shut out representatives of the general public.

To read the complete Washington Post article click here.

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