Coalition Of National Park Service Retirees Worried About Pressure On National Park Service

Bowing to political pressures, the National Park Service has allowed the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to reopen for business with help from the state of Arizona, while the Old Faithful Inn and the rest of Yellowstone National Park remains closed. Top photo by David and Kay Scott, bottom photo via Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

National Park Service officials have found themselves turned into political pawns, first as the administration's face of the government shutdown and now by being splintered through a handful of park openings.

The political standoff in Congress has greatly raised the profile of the agency, but not as "America's best idea." Rather, as administration foes would have it, as an overzealous agency determined to inflict as much public inconvenience as possible.

The shutdown of the National Park System has spurred "occupy" movements by some business owners angered by the lack of park visitors to cater to, "civil disobedience" stands in a bid to "take back our parks," and at least one criminal action in the form of an artifact hunter taking to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park with a metal detector.

The economic pain of missing tourists during the height of the fall tourism season prompted officials in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and some other states to work out agreements with the Interior Department to, essentially, loan the department enough money to reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, and Zion national parks.

Not interested in "bailing out" the federal government was Wyoming, while officials in Washington, Montana and California also declined the opportunity to loan the government money to open more parks.

Park Service officials, meanwhile, also relented and let the concessionaires who run the Pisgah Inn and Peaks of Otter Lodge along the Blue Ridge Parkway reopen those lodges for business.

This splintered approach to opening parks and inns has created a new tapestry of the National Park System, one that is not in the best interests of the Park Service, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

"The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has consistently advocated that Congress pass a budget, open the entire federal government including ALL of America's 401 national park areas. We sympathize with the National Park Service as they have faced unrelenting political pressure to accept state funding to open just a scant few national park units through special agreements with some states," Joan Anzelmo, a former park superintendent and now with the Coalition, said Sunday. "In its own sad way, the degree of pressures that have been applied speak to the extraordinary places that America's national parks are and the huge economic generators they are for their respective communities and states.

"However the same partisan politics that caused this very unnecessary shutdown are also some of the same tactics used to force the agency to open a few parks," she added in an email. "We think this will further divide the country and separate 'the haves' from the 'have not states.' The irresponsibility of Congress in not passing a budget is increasingly pitting Americans against Americans."

The antipathy towards the Obama administration has provided much fodder for right-wing columnists and bloggers, who rallied particularly under an anonymous quote from a Park Service ranger who purportedly claimed, "We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can."

The use of anonymous sources poses a slippery slope, as the New York Times' Public Editor noted Sunday. On one hand, if that ranger's quote had a name attached to it, there very likely would be ramifications for him or her. But anonymity can lead to questions to the veracity of the quote, too. Was that really the message from Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, or possibly only the thoughts from a disgruntled Park Service employee?

In the end, the pressure on the Park Service from Congress, states, and partisan bystanders is enormous.

"We particularly deplore the way some in Congress, some in the states and some in various political groups have intentionally put National Park Service employees in the crosshairs of sensationalized coverage, often ignoring the real facts to score partisan political points," said Ms. Anzelmo.

"Park rangers, long a revered symbol of America, who spend their days helping park visitors, including at times putting their lives on the line to save others, are being grossly used by partisans to fuel hateful sentiments," she added. "It is unprecedented in the history of the agency now approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. It is also dangerous for the employees who remain on duty.

"Our greatest hope is that all National Park Service employees remain safe throughout the entire National Park System. Further, we continue to urge Congress to pass the budget now."

You can follow the Coalition on Facebook, on their home page, and via twitter, @NPSRetirees.


The story states: The political standoff in Congress has greatly raised the profile of the agency, but not as "America's best idea."

A correction: Ken Burns's series, titled America's Best Idea was about the PARKS, not the agency who manages them. The original quote "Americas Best Idea" was also focused upon the PARKS, not the agency who manages them.

The NPS is not a benevolent aunt who watches out for us, it is a Federal agency with a set of policies and directives that do not always serve the public interest. The NPS has received lots of attention during this period and some of it has been undeserved. But not all of it...

Very much agree with MikeG on his opening lines. I think too many people are confusing "America's Best Idea", a Ken Burns special about the idea of National PARKs, with the agency charged with running them.

I have NOTHING but respect for the NPS employees and in the future intend to spend my "semi-retirement" days volunteering for that system. That said, I think the agency needs to remember the word SERVICE in their title.

I think National Park Service Director, Jon Jarvis, needs to immediately put out a common sense policy talking about HOW they will implement a shut down that is consistent with "reality based" Americans.

Common Sense Americans understand the closing of museums, stores, and a fair amount (if not all) Ranger led programs. What most Americans don't understand is why they are being denied access to monuments they could enjoy at 3am on Sunday during a normal year.

I would argue that the NPS should IMPLEMENT policy to allow visitors to attend open air monuments, entry into National Parks (at own risk, and people FINED for rescue costs if needed), utilizaton of parking lots, and use of the road systems. Law enforcement Rangers should be present to protect and enforce the respect of our Park System NOT keep people out.

This kind of policy is CONSISTENT with the Spirit of the Law, the National Parks, and the National Park SERVICE.

I think that no matter what the NPS had done with the National Mall, they would have received criticism. If the National Mall had remained completely open, the complaints about the lack of restrooms and overflowing trash cash(that the Wash Post reported on) would have been greater. I want to know have any of those Senators and Congressman grandstanding at the World War 2 Memorial picked up any trash?

The idea that the Memorial/Monument side of the National Mall has unrestricted access is also completely false. Since 9/11, that side of the Mall has been considered a terrorist target. As such, there are security restrictions on a number of occasions every year(e.g. Fourth of July). At such times, there are security checkpoints and limited entrances on to the Mall.

That heightened security even closed the Monuments down for 2 days in 2003 when a man drove his tractor into the Constitution Gardens pond and claimed to have a bomb.

In past shutdowns NPS actions focused upon the closure of parks with controlled access. These closures have always been highlighted in the media, largely because it brings pressure upon politicians. There have been complaints but nothing like what we've seen this time around.

This time, the NPS took specific actions to increase the level of pain and inconvenience to the public. The fact that they have backtracked on some of those actions has increased the view that it was political in the first place.

The National Mall hasn't been barricaded in the past. It was this time. After yesterdays protest when barricades were removed, the NPS is re-installing the same barricades.

It's a stupid action that will have long term costs to the NPS.

The Lincoln Memorial was barricaded during at least part of the November 1995 shutdown, there are pictures. The Pageant of Peace on the Ellipse was surrounded by a chainlink fence when the December 1995 shutdown started.

Mike, I would suggest that closing Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Mount Rainier, Great Smoky, Shenandoah, etc, are a much greater "pain and inconvenience" than the barricading of the memorials on the Mall. Just ask the families who set out on vacations, the visitors from Europe and Asia, the wedding planners, and the gateway communities.


Good to know.

Sara. Have any of the Dems that voted overwhemingly to keep the parks closed done the same?

Kurt, I agree with you about the closure of the parks and it's effects on travelers and businesses. But those closures happen every 'shutdown'. My comment was directed at the other types of closures this time that either haven't happened before or are more extensive this time. Things like Claude Moore, Pisgah Inn... and the mall.

Those closures are ones that are likely to make the public less benevelent in their feelings about the NPS in the future...

The first time concessionaires were made to close down during a shutdowns was during the shutdowns of November 1995 and December 1995-January 1996. The Pisagh Inn isn't open during those months. As for Claude Moore Colonial Farm, I gotta wonder why this one was such a fascination for everyone. The McLean Patch covered the closure of Langley Fork Park, but not the closure of Claude Moore which is next to Langley Fork.

"...tactics used to force the agency to open a few parks..."

This sounds like the spokesperson for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is complaining that politics are FORCING the agency to OPEN parks...Yikes! I don't agree with but I do understand their fears about state invovlement and sporadic park openings etc. But regardless of those concerns, rhetoric like that does not sound good to the American people.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Take a deep breath, and try to look at this from the point of view of the visitor. Some parks open is better than no parks open.

I'd suggest (in bold italics) the coalitition's official statements sound more like this:

....However the same partisan politics that caused this very unnecessary shutdown are also some of the same tactics that are allowing the agency to only open a few parks...

MikeG has it exactly right. The National Parks are certainly one of our best ideas, the National Park Service, not so much. The reality could be worse than the founder's fear that the NPS might become "just another federal agency." Judging by the dismal scores in management catagories from the annual Best Places To Work employee surveys for the past decade, the NPS has become one of the more poorly-managed branches of government.

On repeated viewings of Ken Burn's fine production on the National Parks, a perhaps unintended theme emerged for me. Among the triumphs of creating the world's finest park system, the series also chronicles a series of serious management mistakes, from bear feeding to predator control to fire supression to overzealous road-building, and the continuing commercialization and over-development..

Future historians and filmmakers might highlight how recent and current management seems to place a higher priority on protecting and expanding their budgets, bureaucratic turf, and political connections than on reasonable public access to their parks. I cringe everytime I hear confused NPS personnel or press releases refer to "NPS boundaries" rather than park boundaries.

Green Salsa also has it right, With all due respect to the many fine NPS field employees, what happened to Service?

Now, The Rest of the Story on Equality ? among all Americans ?

suggested by the GOP's Glenn Beck in:

Glenn Edward Lee Beck

Net Worth: $100 million

Source of Wealth: radio, television, entrepreneur

Born: February 10, 1964 in Everett, Washington

Children: 4

Glenn Beck earned his wealth as television and radio host. He formerly hosted the Glenn Beck news show, which originally aired on CNN Headline News (now HLN). In 2011, he moved from being a Fox News host to the owner of his own Internet network, TheBlaze (formerly GBTV). His multimedia production company, Mercury Radio Arts, had revenue of $75 million in 2012.

His digital assets include, The Blaze (which gets millions of visitors a month), (discount shopping website), and (online clothing store).

How much money does Beck make?

Annual earnings (salary, speeches, merchandise, tours, other income) 2012: $85 million 2011: $50 million 2010: $40 million 2009: $25 million


2012 – Signed a five-year, $100 million contract with Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks. That comes out to a salary of $20 million annually. 2007 – Signed a five-year, $50 million with Premiere Radio Networks.

He also earns about $10 million a year from print (books plus The Blaze magazine). He has written several books including Common Sense, The Christmas Sweater (children’s picture book), and Arguing with Idiots.

- See more at:

The National Park Service has lost it's way as evidenced by it's vindictive and punitive actions towards the American Public during sequester and the government shut down.

I think its important to remember all the other employees of the US Government that are taking it in the shorts along with the citizens who depend on these services and are also being disregarded by the antics of the extreme right of the Republican party. I suppose the tea party crowd is going to hold us hostage to the debt default issue. Perhaps when we cannot pay the bills approved by the US Congress, (including this Congress), and people really feel the pain nation wide, some of the anti-government babble will cease. Especially social security, well the list is endless. I support what the NPS is doing, I am terribly disappointed that the congress, primarily on the far right, have so little respect for so many people. I can tell you that the Coalition of Retired NPS Employees is right on about this. I myself cannot be paid for a fire I was on for 25 days, did get some before the shutdown , but the rest is sitting on empty desks of furloughed employees. Sorry EC, I am not saying you are wrong, we all have a right to our positions, I just profoundly disagree with you on this issue.

We have been experiencing the vindictive and punitive actions of the National Park Service for years at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area! The NPS is loathed on the island by residents and visitors. Their elitist uncaring policies are endangering lives and desimating the local economy. The deserve all the negative attention they can get.

Piping Mad: Fair People at the Mercy of a Government Gone Fowl

If people are going to demand access to the open-air memorials can they please refrain from climbing all over them? Look at the second picture in this story, that is totally disrepectful.

It is amazing the extent some of you will go to never blame this administration for any....thing. People are anonymous because if you dare express an opinion, you won't be around to see the next administration.

The executive agency decisions have gone overboard this time compared to 95-96 and some of the vandalism is costing more than leaving some of the open air stuff open.

"if you dare express an opinion, you won't be around..."

Black helicopters much? It was bad enough earlier today when someone quoted a Glenn Beck source in a serious discussion, but now you're afraid of being disappeared?

I'll repeat again, there is photographic evidence that the Lincoln Memorial was barricaded and under guard during the November 1995 shutdown. How is pointing at untruths, defending the administration?

Is anyone listening to Sara? It doesn't seem like it.


Yes, the NPS has brought scrutiny upon themselves and this shutdown may just show folks that we can live without them and public lands can function on a local level. Jarvis and his fee system has primed the pump for a local takeover of this bureaucracy and I am starting to see the validity of those proposals. Here in the Smokies, we are going to pay 60 grand per day to reopen the park compliments of the TN state legislature. No state is going to pay a park super a quarter of a million dollars. Our state parks function quite well without egregious fees on top of the taxes we already pay for these public lands. I think Jarvis is reaping some karma from his "make the public feel the pain" philosophy here.

Just curious, SmokiesBackpacker, but where will the state get the $$$ to operate the parks year-round? As for the superintendent's salary, I'm pretty sure the pay levels are set by Congress.

Egregious fee? Are we still arguing over that four buck back country camping fee? What a petty whine.I'll gladly pay whatever I am asked for national parks, FWS preserves, national forrests, and the rest. Yeah, I get the best bargains I can - I carry an old fart card - but I don't whine about the small change.

Sara, the only disrepect I see is that they even attempted to close it in the first place, the NPS knew these veterans were coming. I gave the NPS a pass the first day, "good liberals just following orders", but to come back the next day and wire shut the barricades together is beyond disrepectful. And then the NPS willingly further disprects veterans by administration authorizing the opening of the mall for an illegal immigrantion rally. Isn't that far more disrespectful?

Shouldn't the NPS have done everything possible to keep as much open as possible, wouldn't that have been the RIGHT/COMMON SENSE thing to do? Instead of pulling the handles off water fountains and closing open air memorials? Its unforgivable because the NPS knew these honor flight veterans were coming.

NPS didn't remove the handles off of drinking water fountains. They took the pump handles off the well pumps along the C & O Canal.

"Handles have been removed from all well pumps. The wells along the C&O Canal must be constantly monitored to make sure that the ground water is free of contaminants. The people who perform this service have been furloughed; therefore, no monitoring can be done. Rather than have people get sick from drinking from these wells, the decision was made to remove the pump handles."

Thank you for some truth, Sara. It's a welcome rarity these days.

It would have killed the NPS to ask the local community's water testing folks to help...

ec--Citing the Blaze as a source is similar to asking Ted Cruz his opinion of the Affordable Care Act. Many of your cites have come from less politically motivated sources than the Blaze.


Ah Rick(s), another of your personal attacks of the source rather than identifying any actual factual errors. Were the Republican there or not. If you have proof not. Please share.

And for m13 - Beck came from nothing. You appear to miss the whole point. It is equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. Oh the stench of envy.

Glenn Beck is a political commentator. It would be like me quoting Bill Maher as a source (except Bill Maher is bettter educated). If Beck has anything to say on Mormonism or drug addiction, I would consider listening.

Then stop quoting s----y sources. You aren't fooling anyone, least of all yourself.

Let's please use appropriate language for all ages of readers. -- Ed.

You aren't fooling anyone

Not trying to fool anyone. Were the Republcians there or not?

From Dakhota: Glenn Beck is a political commentator

Yes, and fully describes his commentary as such. The Blaze is a newsource. If you have evidence their report about the DC trash pickup is in error. I would be happy to see. it.

So I was wrong - you were fooling yourself.

OK, another thread has met its demise. We're shutting it down.