Nine out of 12 members of the National Park System Advisory Board, which was established 35 years ago to advise the secretary of the interior on the management of national parks and monuments, announced their resignation Monday night. In a resignation letter, members blamed Zinke’s refusal to meet with them in a single meeting the entire 2017. This, which is just shy of an all-out mutiny, leaves the federal government without a functioning body to designate national landmarks, according to The Washington Post.
Tony Knowles, board chairman and former Alaska governor, turned in the letter that stated, “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,” Knowles wrote. “I wish the National Park System and Service well and will always be dedicated to their success.”
On Wednesday, another resignation followed from Carolyn Hessler Radelet, the chief executive of Project Concern International. “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,” Radelet said. “I hope that future actions of the Department of Interior demonstrate that this is not the case.”
We reached out to Knowles and Radelet for further comment but have not heard back as of yet.
It comes as no surprise that Radelet, or the rest of the board, would bring into question the past year’s events, with the decision to slash Utah national monuments, jack up national park entrance fees, allow drilling in ANWR, and slash free days. There’s no telling what the future holds for the board.
"Here we were just being basically stonewalled. ... They had no interest in learning our agenda, and what we had to brief them on," Knowles told CNN. "The board said we need to make a statement. We can't make a statement to the secretary, then we need to make a public statement."