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Interior Spokeswoman: Department "Welcomes" Resignations From National Park Service Advisory Board


In a terse pushback Wednesday, an Interior Department spokeswoman "welcomed" the resignations of nine members from the National Park Service Advisory Board and chided them for doing nothing while women were being harassed in the National Park System.

“We welcome their resignations and would expect nothing less than quitting from members who found it convenient to turn a blind eye to women being sexually harassed at National Parks,” Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

The reference to sexual harassment stems largely from a long-running incident at Grand Canyon National Park that started long before the current board was appointed.

However, the advisory board has nothing to do with the day-to-day field operations of the National Park Service. It "advises the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior on matters relating to the National Park Service, the National Park System, and programs administered by the National Park Service, including the administration of the Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act; the designation of national historic landmarks and national natural landmarks; and the national historic significance of proposed national historic trails."

Nine of the board's 12 members resigned Tuesday, saying they were frustrated that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had not met with them or scheduled a meeting. The terms of the nine were set to expire in May. The positions are filled by presidential appointment, and these members had been placed on the board by President Obama.

Ironically, on Wednesday the Interior Department had a notice in the Federal Register stating that it intended to renew the board's charter.

The advice and recommendations provided by the Board and its subcommittees fulfill an important need within the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service, and it is necessary to re-establish the Board to ensure its work is not disrupted. The Board’s 12 members will be balanced to represent a cross-section of disciplines and expertise relevant to the National Park Service mission.

Ms. Swift referred to that action in her statement to Reuters.

It was "patently false to say the Department had not engaged the board, when as recently as January 8 we were working with the board to renew their charter, schedule a meeting, and fill vacancies," she wrote.


A U.S. Interior Department official has blasted the resignation of most members of a board that advises it on national parks.

Interior Official Blasts Resignation of Parks Advisory Board

Jan. 17, 2018, at 8:00 p.m."

"There's absolutely nothing political about any person on it. We have a lot of different backgrounds and were all brought together because we want to do something really important for the national park system of America and build it for the 21st century."

The board has collected comment from more than 100 experts, including Nobel Prize winners, to offer advice on challenges the system faces, including climate change, attracting more diverse visitors and employees, and protecting natural diversity of wildlife."

"As for sexual harassment within the parks, Knowles said, "We had complete confidence that Jon Jarvis, a person of integrity and strong control of the park system, was taking care of it."

"Jarvis is now executive director of the Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity at the University of California, Berkeley. He said by email he had no comment."


"Knowles said he had no knowledge of a report on Jarvis by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General. It investigated a guidebook that Jarvis wrote without consulting the department's ethics office. The book was published by a nonprofit group that operates stores and sells merchandise in national parks."

"The report determined that Jarvis worked on the book outside office hours and directed royalties to the National Park Foundation, which raises money for the National Park Service."


It is a sad day when the National Parks Advisory Board is used to score political points.  The Advisory Board has done a tremendous service to the agency for decades no matter what party was in control of the White House.  The Board has zero to do with daily operations and had no impact or influence on the issues at the Grand Canyon or the authoring of a book by Director Jarvis (which is the most overblown "scandal" in the history of the agency and one for which Director Jarvis apologized).  Get over it!

The Advisory Board served a great service to the agency by bringing in outside perspectives from business, academia and government. It helped the agency look foward and think strategically.  It allowed us to escape the daily operations and think about things beyond the agency.  The NPS and for that matter the Department of Interior has no strategic planning office to speak of, none.  So having this group helped fill a critical void and hopefully a new Board will appear soon because there is a lot of work to do.  I certainly think an Advisory Board would be an outstanding venue for a review and comment on things like the DOI Reorganization Plan, the increasing challenge of tackling deferred mainenance and the challenges and opportunities of providing greater access to our parks, just to name a few. 

I always found the Advisory Board's work to be excellent and useful.  The Advisory Boards role and function is certainly dependent on the engagement by the Director or Secretary as well as the support it received from many career professionals.  It is one of the best "think tanks" around for the National Park Service - let's hope it is used in that capacity again. 


Heather Swift appears to have graduated from the same communications management program as Sarah H Sanders and other professionally paid liars.

I wonder what it is like to have the pinnacle of your career to be a professional liar working on behalf of oily narcissists.

Sounds like political grandstanding to me on part of the resigning board members.

"The appointment of two of the individuals who claim to be resigning had already expired in July and November, and they did not seek reappointment,"


"At the heart of the dispute is the Trump administration's move in August to scrap a 2016 order by the Obama administration that called for a focus on climate change in managing natural resources in U.S. parks. ...

"Among other things, the order called for park managers to make decisions based 'on science, law and long-term public interest.' And it said park superintendents and other NPS leaders had to 'possess scientific literacy appropriate to their positions and resource management decision-making responsibilities.' "


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