75% of the board is now vacant.
The majority of members on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board resigned Monday night, citing significant differences between their vision and that of President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Nine out of the board’s 12 members led by former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles signed a letter addressed to Zinke claiming that “requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of the agenda,” according to a copy of the document posted by the Washington Post.
Previously under Barack Obama’s administration, the letter said, the board had "worked closely and productively through 2016 with dedicated National Park Service employees, an inspiring Director and a fully supportive Department." But since then, Knowles explained, the board has failed to secure a meeting with Zinke despite multiple attempts.
“The department showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education,” Knowles told Alaska Public Radio. “And it has rescinded [National Park Service] regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.”
Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that she supported the resigning board members, according to NPR.
"The President still hasn't nominated a director for the National Park Service and Secretary Zinke has proposed tripling entrance fees at our most popular national parks," she said. "His disregard of the advisory board is just another example of why he has earned an 'F' in stewardship."
Throughout the first year of his administration, Trump has made moves to reduce protections of public lands and national parks. In December, he ordered the largest national monument reduction in U.S. history with the shrinking of two of Utah’s protected lands.