Zinke’s Interior Department Blasts National Parks Board Resignations: Good Riddance

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 4: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gives a speech before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on December 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Trump announced the reduction in size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante …
George Frey/Getty Images

The liberal media, including the Washington Post and National Public Radio, reported on a “mass resignation” of nine of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board. They reportedly resigned because Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees that agency, would not meet with them and opposed their positions on climate change and other environmental issues.

All of the board members who resigned were appointed by President Barack Obama, and the spokeswoman for DOI refutes the claims made in the letter and the media. And, in fact, she claims that dysfunction lies with the board and its refusal to address important issues, including sexual harassment within service and mismanagement.

“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 and praise a man as ‘inspiring’ who had been blasted by the inspector general for ethics and management failures, all while taking credit for the extensive work of private companies during the NPS centennial celebration,” Heather Swift told Breitbart News.

Swift was referring to former United States National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, who was investigated by the OIG before his retirement last year.

“It is 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,” Swift said. “The board traditionally meets at the end of each year, and the secretary rarely attends.”

“However, since the board’s charter expired in late December, we were working with them to renew the charter and hold a meeting,” Swift said.

Swift also said this development allows DOI to bring on board members who are dedicated to helping the agency with its mission.

“The Department is happy to report that we have a number of individuals who have expressed interest in joining the board and we will now fast-track filling these new vacancies with people who are actually dedicated to working with the Department to better our national parks,” Swift said. “We expect to have a full board meeting soon.”

Swift also said that two of the board members who claimed to have resigned on Monday had tenure that already expired, and they did not seek consideration for reappointment.

“Their hollow and dishonest political stunt should be a clear indicator of the intention of this group,” Swift said.

The liberal media, however, painted a much different picture of what transpired this week.

The Post reported:

The board is required to meet twice a year but has not convened since Trump took office last January, [former Alaska Gov. Tony] Knowles said Tuesday. Members, most of whom have worked together for seven years, were surprised to not be consulted on Interior’s recent decisions to increase visitor fees and reverse a ban on plastic water bottles in the park system. The decision to reverse climate change directives and other policies drove the decision to resign, he said.

“We were frozen out,” said Knowles, who emphasized that the group recognized Zinke would select new members this year but wanted “the momentum to continue” from what the board accomplished in 2016 during the park system’s centennial year.

National Public Radio reported:

Nine of the panel’s 12 members, led by former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, handed in their resignations. The bipartisan panel was appointed by President Barack Obama, and the terms of all members who quit were set to expire in May.

Knowles, in a letter of resignation to Zinke from himself and the eight other members, said the board had “worked closely and productively through 2016 with dedicated National Park Service employees, an inspiring Director and a fully supportive Department.”

Since then, as explained in the letter, the board had repeatedly tried and failed to secure a meeting with the new interior secretary.

“[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 the agenda,” the letter states.

Knowles, a Democrat, also told Alaska Public Media that climate change policy led to his stepping down.

“[Zinke’s Interior] 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 told Alaska Public Media. “And it has rescinded NPS regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.”

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