Majority Of National Parks Board Members Quit Over Zinke’s Disinterest

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke listens during a Cabinet meeting at The White House in Washington, DC, December  20, 2017. Credit: Chris Kleponis / Polaris
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Nine of the 12 members of a national parks advisory board resigned on Monday, citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s failure to meet with or consult the board in the entire first year of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

“We understand the complexity of transition but 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 its agenda,” Tony Knowles, the chair of the National Park System Advisory Board (NPSAB), wrote in a letter signed by eight other board members.

In the letter, first obtained by the Washington Post, Knowles wrote that he is concerned that the leadership in the Trump administration has “set aside” the National Park System’s mission.

“I wish the National Park System and Service well and will always be dedicated to their success. 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.

In an interview with the New York Times, Knowles said that Zinke “appears to have no interest in continuing the agenda of science, the effect of climate change, pursuing the protection of the ecosystem.”

The NPSAB is supposed to meet twice a year, but upon becoming interior secretary, Zinke froze all of the department’s advisory committees while he assessed them. Interior has since told the Washington Post that all the committees have restarted, but the department has yet to approve new charters or agendas for some of the committees, effectively prohibiting them from operating.