Parks and Protests

Today, one day from another government shut down and therefore national park shutdown, I read this from USA Today.

Nine of the 12 members of the National Park Service advisory board resigned in protest this week, saying Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has ignored pleas for a meeting and has “set aside” protection of the nation’s natural treasures.

Parks of the Southeast

Board chairman Tony Knowles, a Democrat and former governor of Alaska, said in a resignation letter to Zinke that the group has been waiting for a year to meet and “continue the partnership” between the board and Interior officials.

“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,” the letter says. “I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside.”

Bison in THRO

The board’s tasks included advising Zinke and the National Park Service on the designation of national historic and natural landmarks. The board also provides input on a wide range of issues from climate change to the administration of the Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act.

Who are these people? Here’s the link. It’s gratifying to see that most of them are women.

Knowles told The Washington Post that the board, despite being required to meet twice a year, has not convened since President Trump took office. Knowles said members understood that the Trump administration would name its own board members. 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.

Water bottles? Now there’s a sound environmental idea reversed by Sec. Zinke.

As for the government shutdown, I now read that national parks will stay open. There just won’t be any park personnel, just concessions. See the Washington Post.

Too bad that here in the Southeast, it’s so icy and cold that few visitors will venture into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed because of the weather. But otherwise, I would love to see what happens without park rangers.

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