Former Alaska Gov. Knowles leads mass resignation from National Park System Advisory Board

Denali National Park. (Photo by National Park Service)

All but two members of the 12-member National Park System Advisory resigned this week out of frustration with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and concern with the agenda of the Trump administration.

Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, chaired the panel and sent a resignation letter on behalf of himself and eight other members on Monday. A 10th member resigned on Wednesday, citing similar concerns. The letter outlines a variety of concerns the members had with the development-focused Secretary Zinke, and the letter references climate change as part of the work the panel has done to prepare the National Parks System to the future.

The letter also accuses Zinke of ignoring requests to meet with the panel in pursuit of an agenda out of line with the National Park Service’s mission.

“However, from all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside,” Knowles wrote. “I hope that future actions of the Department of Interior demonstrate that this is not the case.”

Knowles was the chair of the National Park System Advisory Board, a position that he was appointed to by former President Barack Obama.

“We welcome their resignations”

The Interior Department released a scathing statement about the members who resigned, accusing them of ignoring sexual harassment in the National Parks and said it welcomed their resignations. .

In a report by Reuters, Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift also the members of fabricating the complaints that the administration was ignoring their requests to meet. Here’s the full excerpt:

“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 an emailed statement.

She added 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.”

The full letter

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