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P. Dan Smith Named Deputy Director Of National Park Service


Dan Smith is coming out of retirement to serve as a deputy director of the National Park Service/NPS

A former National Park Service official who was found to have ignored Park Service regulations and pushed through a permit to allow the owner of the Washington Redskins to cut down trees in a scenic easement along Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on Tuesday was appointed to help lead the agency.

Paul Daniel Smith "will have a crucial role in leading more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who care for America's 417 national parks and NPS programs," an Interior Department release said.

"Dan has a strong record of leadership in the National Park Service both in Washington and on the front lines as a superintendent of a park that tells the stories of some of the most consequential moments in American history,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “I can think of no one better equipped to help lead our efforts to ensure that the National Park Service is on firm footing to preserve and protect the most spectacular places in the United States for future generations.”

Mr. Smith retired in 2014 after 10 years as superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park in Virginia. National Parks Traveler  broke the story  last week that he would return to help lead the Park Service as deputy director, at least on a temporary basis as President Trump has yet to nominate a permanent Park Service director.

Before he went to Colonial, Mr. Smith was special assistant to then-NPS Director Fran Mainella. During that stint, he was found by the Interior Department's Inspector General to have "inappropriately used his position to apply pressure and circumvent NPS procedures" to permit Redskins owner Dan Snyder to have trees up to 6 inches wide at breast height on the easement cut down to improve the Potomac River view from his mansion.

According to the investigation by then-Inspector General Earl Devaney's staff, the Park Service failed to conduct the requisite environmental assessment as required by the NPS Director's Handbook before issuing the special user permit to Mr. Snyder.

Mr. Smith had become involved in the matter in 2002, according to the OIG report, and in 2004 called Chesapeake and Ohio Canal staff to say that, "Snyder was not happy with the pace of negotiations with NPS concerning the scenic easement."

"The C&O NHP Lands Coordinator admitted that after his conversation with Smith, he felt pressure to secure an agreement with Snyder," the report added. "He related that he met with Smith at least twice after the call, once at Snyder's residence in June 2004 and another time on the C&O Canal towpath below Snyder's residence."

In assessing the matter, Mr. Devaney wrote that, "our investigation also revealed the unprecedented decision to allow Mr. Snyder to cut on the easement resulted from the undue influence of P. Daniel Smith. Smith inappropriately used his position to apply pressure and circumvent NPS procedures, on Snyder's behalf, through his personal communications with park officials and Mr. Snyder and his representatives."

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Smith said, "(I)t is an honor and a privilege to return to Washington, D.C., with the invaluable perspective from the field that I gained during my time as superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park.” 

When he joined the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Smith did so as a political appointee in the Interior Department. After the incident at Chesapeake and Ohio, he moved into the Park Service ranks as a superintendent on a career track.

During his stint at Colonial, Mr. Smith managed a 23-mile parkway and three historic sites, including the first permanent British colony in America at Jamestown and the site of the 1781 Revolutionary War victory of General George Washington over British General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. During his tenure at the park Smith oversaw the completion of a new visitor center and a research center at Jamestown in preparation for the 400th anniversary commemoration of the settlement in 2007.

Smith’s other assignments included serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department, where he was responsible for the multi-billion dollar budgets and programs of the National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in coordination with congressional representatives, state and local governments, and other important partners. 

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Looks like he has reached and exceeded his level of incompetence.

Disgusting, but it's the new reality with der trumpf in power. 

Donald  TRUMP  and  Joseph  Goebbels  both Argue:
"The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over." 
-- Joseph Goebbels

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.




This is about right...I remember when a wooded patch next to the Moore house was cleared by the neighboring landowner with his blessing to make more space for their view and detached garage.  Or when a monument vanished.  Great things ahead for the park service.

Instead of draining the swamp, it's become the "Attack of the Swamp Creatures".

I find it a bit odd that all of the various official announcements and press statements state the position Mr. Smith was appointed to as "a Deputy Director" of NPS, not specifying which Deputy Director position it is.  Mike Reynolds is still "Deputy Director, Operations", I beliee that Lena McDowell is "Deputy Director, Management and Administration".  So is Dan Smith "Deputy Director, Congressional and External Relations", the 3rd deputy position in the org chart, or just parked with no specific portfolio until he can become acting Director without Senate confirmation?

My limited understanding of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (from news about what's happened with other agencies) is that an acting positon must be appointed from personnel who have been in that agency for at least 90 days, and can only serve for 210 (or possibly 300) days.  Mike Reynolds is back to "Deputy Director, Operations, exercising the authority of the director" because he reached the limit on acting positions.  It appears that there won't be an acting director for the next 3 months until Dan Smith is elgible, just Mike Reynolds doing his best with dubious legal authority.  And, appointing Dan Smith as deputy director now (rather than 90 days before Mike Reynolds hit the deadline) seems to suggest that nomination of a new permanent director for NPS will not happn for another year or so, if then.  That would be enough time for the DOI reorganization to develop without input from a confirmed NPS director.  Since the position of director of NPS position is explicitly called for in the 1918 Organic Act (@$4500 per year!), I don't see that the reorganization could do away with the position.  So, my guess is that NPS will have little input into the DOI reorganization.


edited to add:

Here's the current NPS leadership page:

The org chart doesn't give names:

So even the freshly updated NPS page lists Dan Smih as just "Deputy Director", with Sue Masica still acting Deputy Director Operations.

I'm half curious whether Gary Machlis is still there as Science Advisor to the Director.


From all I've been able to see and try to understand of this mess, Mike Reynolds has been loyal to the REAL purposes of the NPS and appears to have been doing all he can to resist at least some of the political bulllony of the drumpf swamp sludge.

Can someone with more knowledge tell us if Mr. Reynolds deserves Hero status?

It is complete violation of the Vacancies Reform Act (VRA) to have Mr. Smith "act" in the capacity of director.  I do not care if the title says Deputy Director, Exercising the Authority of Director for the National Park Service.  Unless there has been a name submitted to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for consideration and conformation, any decisions he would make would have "no force or effect" according to the VRA.  Once the 300 day period has elapsed, which it has and  as it did with Mike Reynolds, this "Exercising the Authority of the Director is bogus and without any merit.  Decisions Mr. Smith makes need to be challenged by employees, citizens, and environmental groups.  I can't believe decisions Mr Reynolds made, or was forced to make, by the administration beyond his 300 day acting assignment were not or have not been challenged.  It is the "position" of acting and not the "person" in the position.  The 300 days for the acting director position has expired.

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