Friday, 17 August, 2018

Most Members Of The National Park System Advisory Board Just Quit

Majority of National Park Service advisory board resigns amid protest National Parks advisory group quits, complains about lack of meetings with Zinke
Kenny Thornton | 17 January, 2018, 18:46

Almost all members of the National Park Service advisory panel abruptly quit on Monday in protest of the Trump administration's policies, which they say have neglected science, climate change and environmental protections.

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".

The board's tasks included advising Zinke and the National Park Service on the designation of national historic and natural landmarks. Still, he said the resignees were not consulted on recent decisions to increase visitor fees and to reverse a ban on plastic water bottles in the park system.

Gretchen Long, a board member from Wilson, Wyoming, said in an email that the nine board members resigned given the administration's seeming attitude that the group's work "could be so summarily dismissed".

The outlet obtained a letter written on behalf of the resigning members.

One of the many surprises of Donald Trump's presidency is that he managed to drive the National Park Service into the resistance. The Interior Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Another speculation is that this money could have been hidden to convert it into legal currency through foreign companies. Police also raided three hotels from where 11 people including Santosh Yadav, a professor, were arrested, he said.

The members left the board in an apparent protest over their treatment by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

"We resigned because we were deeply disappointed with the department and we were concerned", Knowles told the New York Times, adding that Zinke, "appears to have no interest in continuing the agenda of science, the effect of climate change, pursuing the protection of the ecosystem".

Since taking office, President Trump has sought to roll back protections of national parks and public lands under the auspices of the Department of the Interior.

The Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, a nonprofit group composed of current and former National Park Service employees, said it could understand the board members' deep frustration at the prolonged deactivation of the board under Trump and the lack of response from Zinke to numerous requests to meet with him.

NPR notes that the nine members who stepped down were all Obama-era appointees and were scheduled to end their terms in May, anyway. And in December, the administration reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by some two million acres, the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation's history.

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