Zinke Pushes Two-Thirds Of Nationwide Park Service Advisory Panel To Resign

Steve Marcus | AP | BDN

This Jan. 15 letter of resignation from members of the National Park System Advisory Board was sent to Secretary Ryan Zinke, U.S. Department of Interior, by Tony Knowles, chair of the board from 2010 to 2017 and governor of Alaska from 1994 to 2002.

"Even in this historically destructive administration, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stands out as especially damaging", the group tweeted on Tuesday.

Knowles told the Post that the board hasn't held a meeting since President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for "serious case of amnesia" after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don't want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE took office last January despite the board being required by law to meet two times each year.

Nine of the 12 National Park System Advisory Board officials fired off a letter announcing their abrupt decision Monday night, according to a copy of the letter that was obtained by the Washington Post. 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.

There's no comment from the Interior Department.

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In their resignation letter on Monday, Knowles and the eight other members who resigned said they worked closely and productively through 2016 with National Park Service employees, emphasizing scientific research and mitigation of climate change, engaging young generations, protecting the natural diversity of wildlife, and encouraging a more diverse culture of park visitors. In general, though, the Trump administration doesn't seem that concerned with the status of federal advisory panels.

The board members' action comes as one of Zinke's top deputies, Doug Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas, plans to move into the Washington offices that the National Park Service has occupied for half a century.

Last spring, Zinke suspended the work of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and subcommittees pending a review. "The board said we need to make a statement". Just three members remain a part of the board. Their terms were set to end in May, allowing Zinke to choose replacements then.

"We keep waiting for a pro-park agenda to emerge", Francis said, "but we are now convinced we are waiting in vain".

Author Information: Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's senior national affairs correspondent, covering how the new administration is transforming a range of USA policies and the federal government itself.

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