Former National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis is admonishing the Trump administration for trying to silence park rangers.
Earlier this month, the Interior Department briefly paused all its Twitter accounts after NPS retweeted a post comparing a photo of President Trump's inauguration to one of President Obama's. It then reactivated the accounts with a new rule until Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) is confirmed as Interior secretary: No posts on policy.
Jarvis yesterday called the directive "ridiculous."
"I have been watching the Trump administration trying unsuccessfully to suppress the National Park Service with a mix of pride and amusement," Jarvis wrote in a statement posted on the Association of National Park Rangers' Facebook page.
"The NPS is the steward of America's most important places and the narrator of our most powerful stories, told authentically, accurately, and built upon scientific and scholarly research," he added. "The Park Ranger is a trusted interpreter of our complex natural and cultural history and a voice that cannot not be suppressed."
The statement is the first Jarvis has publicly made about NPS since he retired on Jan. 3, after a 40-year career at the agency. It comes after individual parks appeared to resist the administration's attempts to scale back social media at various agencies, including U.S. EPA. Badlands National Park tweeted out climate facts before deleting them last week. Interior has said a former employee posted the tweets (Greenwire, Jan. 25).
"The ridiculousness of such a directive was immediately resisted and I am not the least bit surprised," Jarvis wrote.
He pointed to the history at various parks — such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site and the Stonewall National Monument — to argue that NPS has a responsibility to speak about issues that could be considered policy.
"[A]s we scientifically monitor the rapid decline of glaciers in Glacier National Park, a clear and troubling indicator of a warming planet, shall we refrain from telling this story to the public because the administration views climate change as 'national policy'?" Jarvis said.
He then added: "These are not 'policy' issues, they are facts about our nation, it is how we learn and strive to achieve the ideals of our founding documents. To talk about these facts is core to the mission of the NPS."
Jarvis ended his statement with a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump.
"During the Centennial of the National Park Service, we hosted over 300 million visitors (now that is huge) to the National Parks and most came away inspired, patriotic and ready to speak on behalf of the values we hold most dear," he wrote. "The new Administration would be wise to figure out how to support the National Park Service, its extraordinary employees and their millions of fans."
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