Perhaps the short, three-paragraph comment from National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan over Fran Mainella's resignation was a sign that he really didn't mean everything he said.
I mean, first he congratulated her for her six years as director, and then called her a "passionate, enthusiastic advocate for our parks."
Too, Kiernan applauded Fran for overseeing a rewrite of the agency's Management Policies "that protects the national parks for future generations. The implementation of these important policies and the respect she demonstrated for park professionals will be among her great and lasting legacies."
Phew. That's Washington for you. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The NPCA has to continue working with Fran until she leaves and then get along with her successor, so I suppose it makes sense to keep things polite.
Fortunately, the folks over at the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees can call a spade a spade and that's what Bill Wade did when I asked for his reaction to Fran's imminent departure.
"She was not a good director, and may go down in history as the worst director the NPS ever had, in terms of having allowed significant increases on NPS lands of motorized recreational uses; having contributed to enormous frustration and fear among the career professionals; for not standing up in the very first place and defending the national park system against the dreadful attempt by Hoffman and those who supported him to potentially dismantle the system by way of the Management Policies and for other actions and inactions," Wade, the chair of the coalition's executive council, told me.
"For decades, the American people have been able to count on the director of the NPS to defend the system against efforts, political and social, that would impair the resources for future generations," he added. "She has not done that. She has left a demoralized and largely decimated cadre of career professionals in the NPS. The wreckage of the last six years will take a long time to repair."
Quite a legacy Fran, don't you think?