75% of National Parks Panel Quits in Protest

They say Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has yet to meet with them
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2018 6:43 AM CST
75% of National Parks Panel Quits in Protest
In this undated file photo, the Upper Gulch section of the Escalante Canyons within Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument features sheer sandstone walls, broken occasionally by tributary canyons.   (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)

"I wish the National Park System and Service well." It's a goodbye, but not just any goodbye: They're parting words from the chair of the National Park System Advisory Board, who was one of nine members to suddenly resign in protest on Monday. The federally chartered board, which had numbered 12, is tasked with advising the secretary of the interior—Ryan Zinke, currently—on matters such as the designation of national historic and natural landmarks. But the Washington Post reports Zinke has declined to meet with them following a May decision to put committees on ice as his team reviews their function. "We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored," says chair Tony Knowles.

Alaska Public Radio reports Knowles saw his board as somewhat singular, however, as it was chartered by Congress in 1935. The Post details other advisory bodies that remain at a standstill, among them two tied to the Bureau of Land Management. A member of one of those bodies, which focuses on the Rocky Mountain region, details some of the topics that are languishing: how to enact a fee bump in the area, and what to do about homelessness on federal lands. The terms of many of the exiting NPS board members were up in May, and Knowles says the desire was to "make a statement as a board as we left what our concerns are." Knowles outlines those concerns to the New York Times: that Zinke "appears to have no interest in continuing the agenda of science, the effect of climate change, pursuing the protection of the ecosystem.”" (More National Park Service stories.)

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