After going a year without meeting, nine of the 12 members of the National Park System Advisory Board resigned on Monday night, exasperated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's inability to make the time to convene with the committee.
"We were frozen out," Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska and departing chairman of the board, told The Washington Post. After Zinke was appointed last year, he suspended all outside committees, saying he needed to review their work, and while some have become operational again, those without updated charters can't meet. "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 in a letter from the resigning members to Zinke.
The committee was established in 1935, and in recent years it has advised the Interior Department on how to deal with global warming and bring younger people to the parks. The bipartisan board was not consulted by Zinke when he decided to increase visitor fees and overturn a ban on plastic water bottles in the parks, and now that there are just three members left, the government does not have a body to designate historic or natural landmarks, the Post reports. Zinke has already disbanded two commissions — the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science and the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council; the latter has been replaced with the Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council.