Nine out of 12 sitting members of the Department of the Interior’s National Park System Advisory Board resigned on Monday in protest of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is very fond of having subordinates fly flags in his honor and hang dead animals in his office but apparently not meeting with them.
Per the Washington Post, the nine advisers “abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year.” With the board members gone, the federal government has no “functioning body to designate historic or natural landmarks,” the paper reported—not that there’s any indication Zinke is particularly interested in doing anything other than shrinking the size of existing landmarks, consistent with Donald Trump and his White House’s generalized disdain for environmental and land-use regulations.
“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,” board chair and former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles wrote in a letter to Zinke, per the Post. “I wish the National Park System and Service well and will always be dedicated to their success.”
As the Post reported, Zinke disbanded one advisory body dealing with climate change and natural resources, replaced another on wildlife conservation with a “Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council,” and suspended hundreds of others. The National Park Service remains without a Zinke-appointed director and is currently supervised by an acting director, Mike Reynolds.
The White House’s nominees to run environmental and scientific agencies have mostly been industry flacks, unqualified clowns, and people diametrically opposed to the functions of the agencies they’re supposed to run—so mass resignations at environmental and scientific advisory boards is hardly a surprise.
In plenty of cases, Trump’s administration has moved first, disbanding some federal advisory councils like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate board and mass-firing members at others like the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Science Counselors. The White House science and technology division was reportedly picked clean of staffers by earlier this year.