The great dismantling of America's national parks is under way
Under this administration, nothing is sacred as we watch the nation’s crown jewels being recut for the rings of robber barons.
For more than 100 years, professional management of our national parks has been respected under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Yes, they have different priorities, the Democrats often expanding the system and the Republicans historically focused on building facilities in the parks for expanding visitation. But the career public servants of the National Park Service (NPS), charged with stewarding America’s most important places, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Statue of Liberty, were left to do their jobs.
Even in the dark days of interior secretaries James Watt and Gail Norton, both former attorneys with the anti-environmental Mountain States Legal Foundation, the National Park Service (NPS) was generally left untouched, perhaps because they recognized that some institutions have too much public support or their mission too patriotic to be tossed under the proverbial bus.
This time is different and we should know, as Jon, one of this story’s authors, worked for the last 10 interior secretaries as a career NPS manager, and ultimately led the agency under Barack Obama, and Destry, Jon’s brother and co-author, has worked with the past 12 NPS directors as a conservation advocate. The change began within 24 hours of the inauguration when Donald Trump complained
that the NPS was reporting smaller crowds on the National Mall than Obama had drawn. Perhaps this is when the NPS wound up on the list of transgressors. Soon the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, attempted
to double the entrance fees, rescinded
climate policies and moved
seasoned senior national park superintendents around to force their retirements.