9 of 12 National Park Service advisory board members quit in disgust

Cheryl Sanders
January 17, 2018

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke refused to meet with members of the U.S. National Park Service's advisory board over the past year.

Almost the entire National Park Advisory Board resigned en masse this week out sheer frustration with the Trump administration and especially Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

We also wanted to present evidence of the overwhelming support and participation all across America for the National Park System and this agenda during the 2016NPS centennial celebration.For the past year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI as prescribed by law.

Knowles told CNN the NPS panel is supposed to meet twice a year, but hasn't met even once in the 12 months President Trump has been in office.

According to its website, the board is a group of "citizen advisers chartered by Congress to help the National Park Service care for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage". The terms of the members who quit were due to expire in May.

The National Park System Advisory Board, which was established in 1935, has typically included social and natural science academics as well as former elected officials from both parties. "We can't make a statement to the secretary, then we need to make a public statement". Knowles said members understood that the Trump administration would name its own board members. Departing board Chairman Tony Knowles told the Post that the panel has waited to work with Zinke but has been "frozen out". Zinke "appears to have no interest in continuing the agenda of science, the effect of climate change, pursuing the protection of the ecosystem".

Aside from Zinke's unwillingness to meet with the bipartisan National Park Service board, Trump still has not nominated a director for the National Park Service.

"[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.

The three members who did not resign are Linda Bilmes, Rita Colwell and Carolyn Hessler Radelet.

"This discourteous and disrespectful treatment of the board is inexcusable and, unfortunately, consistent with a decidedly anti-park pattern demonstrated by Secretary Zinke's department", coalition chair Phil Francis said. "The board said we need to make a statement". Blimes said she was working on a project funded by the National Park Foundation and cited wanting to finish as her reason for not joining the others.

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