Investigation: National Park Service Long Ignored Preservation Laws In Desecrating Sacred Ground At Effigy Mounds National Monument

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Footers 4 feet deep were sunk into a mound for a boardwalk. Since this photo was taken, the footers were cut even with the mound top./NPS

Ancestral burial grounds and ceremonial mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa considered sacred by a dozen Native American tribes were desecrated by National Park Service managers who "clearly knew what they were doing was against the law" during a decade-long campaign of building boardwalks and trails across the monument grounds, according to a voluminous investigation.

Though news of the actual damage to archaeological sites in the national monument surfaced in 2010, details of the just-unearthed investigation point to a longstanding disregard or ignorance of state and federal laws created to protect this country's archaeological resources.

Phyllis Ewing, who as the monument's superintendent was ultimately responsible for the work, was transferred to a position in the regional office not long after the desecration came to light. Earlier this year she was fired, a move she reportedly is challenging. Tom Sinclair, the monument's maintenance chief under Superintendent Ewing who was its de facto cultural resources compliance officer, also is no longer with the National Park Service.

Working to right the Park Service's image with area residents and members of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, the Upper Sioux Community of Minnesota, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in the state of Minnesota, the Lower Sioux Indian Community in the state of Minnesota, the Prairie island Indian Community in the state of Minnesota, the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska, and the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma is Jim Nepstad, who was appointed superintendent at the monument in 2011.

"Even before I got to the park we acknowledged to people that we had some bad things happen at Effigy Mounds and that a lot of it was the result of poor or non-existent communication, whether that was with the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) or the tribes or with the general public, even amongst the staff of the park. That was going to be the one thing that I was going to work on," Superintendent Nepstad said Saturday during a phone call. "By being open and transparent, I think, admitting to what happened, not trying to blindly defend it, I think we've been able to make quite a bit of progress."

The matter resurfaced Saturday when documents obtained by Friends of Effigy Mounds and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility through a Freedom of Information Act request were made public. Key was the 703-page investigative report compiled by National Park Service Special Agent David Barland-Liles that traced problems back to 2001.

Tim Mason, a seasonal ranger at Effigy Mounds for 19 years and currently head of Friends of Effigy Mounds, had worked to bring attention to the matter for years. In 2010 he asked the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General to look into the matter, only to be told "the issues raised would be better addressed by the National Park Service."

On Saturday during a telephone call he said he couldn't understand why the National Park Service allowed the illegal acts at the monument to go on for so many years.

"That is the most perplexing question of the whole malfeasance," he said, charging that Superintendent Ewing and Chief Sinclair were focused on "empire building" through the projects. "They were left to run wild for years and years."

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis had no comment on the matter, his spokesperson said Monday.

While Special Agent Barland-Liles didn't file a formal report, according to PEER, he did present it to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a decision was made not to prosecute either Ms. Ewing or Mr. Sinclair, said Superintendent Nepstad.

The agent's investigation, built on interviews with monument and regional office staff, memorandums, personnel documents, and budget documents, provided a paper trail leading to Ms. Ewing and Mr. Sinclair. That trail indicated that park staff failed to conduct the required archaeological assessments and consultations with state and tribal officials before proceeding with the projects. In some cases, the documents show, compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act was done after the fact.

In one interview, the associate regional director for cultural resources in the Park Service's Midwest Region Office told the special agent that, "We've tried to understand how a park could behave so badly...Wherever they had a chance to screw up, they did." The official, whose name was redacted from the document, added that the various projects "destroyed" the park and that it would take decades to repair the actual damage as well as the Park Service's reputation.

The Midwest Region's cultural resources specialist told Special Agent Barland-Liles that, "Effigy Mounds went to the extreme and did whatever they wanted to do. ... There was clear intent to circumvent the law by people who are at a high enough level to know better. I can't explain why they did what they did but they clearly knew what they were doing was against the law."

Effigy Mounds National Monument was established in 1949 specifically to protect and preserve more than 200 Native American mound sites along the Mississippi River, some of which date back almost 2,000 years. Among the mounds are "31 effigy mounds in the shapes of birds and bears. These mounds are examples of a signifiant phase of mound-building culture, commemorating the passing of loved ones and the sacred beliefs of these ancient peoples," Park Service manuals note.

During Superintendent Ewing's tenure, an estimated $3 million worth of boardwalks, trails, and other infrastructures were built without the required archaeological assessments, the investigation shows. In some cases, boardwalks were built over a road more than 100 years old that dated to the Mississippi steamboat era and along and over mounds; landscape contractors used mechanical augers to dig holes near the visitor center atop potential archaeological sites before surveys were done, and; had, against regional directives, buried Native American remains unconnected with tribes associated with Effigy Mounds into the monument's Three Mounds.

In the wake of the construction in 2007 of a shop building, one of the monument's rangers asked Chief Ranger Kenneth Block if the requisite archaeological assessments had been done.

"As I think you had suspected, the building was simply put up with no thought to get ARPA (Archaeological Resources Protection Act) approval BEFORE construction," the chief ranger replied in a letter.

An October 2009 letter from then-Regional Director Ernie Quintana to Superintendent Ewing questioned her approach to projects that could disturb archaeological resources. A site evaluation by an associate regional director "determined that there were several major violations of the NHPA from 2001 through 2007," wrote the regional director. "Specifically, the (evaluation) found the park did not follow the compliance procedures of NEPA or Section 106 of the NHPA in building new trails, replacing trail bridges, building a maintenance structure, and constructing an interpretive exhibit. These violations were exacerbated by the fact that they had major, adverse impacts to cultural landscapes and a strong likelihood of having adverse impacts to aboriginal American Indian structures that the park was established to protect."

A Park Service memorandum following a meeting with tribal representatives in November of that year noted that the tribes "were fairly angry about the boardwalks, and one (representative) even asked why ancient cemeteries should be treated as places to walk your dog. A tribal representative who participated in some (General Management Plan) sessions said they did not like the boardwalks but they had been told that NPS considered them necessary. Several tribal representatives felt that damage has been done and their views would not be considered."

Superintendent Ewing, in her interview with Special Agent Barland-Liles, said she didn't realize proper compliance steps weren't being taken until the on-site evaluation by the associate regional director in 2009. Although records obtained by the special agent showed the superintendent had received some training on Section 106 requirements, she told him, "I really didn't know all these rules" required of superintendents and that she left compliance matters to Chief Sinclair.

In his interview with the special agent, Mr. Sinclair said he could not recall ever officially being designated as the monument's cultural resources compliance officer, and that he wasn't aware of all the procedures that needed to be followed when projects might impact archaeological sites. When asked what advice he would give to the U.S. Attorney's Office on the matter, he responded, "Have mercy."

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A hole was dug into a burial mound at the monument to "repatriate" remains from Native Americans despite their lack of ties to the site/PEER

Among the documents that surfaced with the investigation was an archaeological damage assessment made by a cultural resources management specialist from Buffalo National River. In it that specialist, Dr. Caven Clark, noted damage 2010 from construction of a boardwalk into the the Nazekaw Tenace area of the monument along the Yellow River. The path of the construction, which involved placement of 216 4-foot-deep holes dug for footers, went across the top of a mound, Dr. Clark noted. In a related memo from March 2011, Special Agent Barland-Liles recounted an interview he had with the historic preservation officer for the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma who told him she couldn't understand why the park would build a boardwalk into the Nazekaw Tenace area, saying it was "just wrong."

"Why would they think we would want that there," said the tribal officer, whose name was redacted from the report.

In January 2010, Mr. Quintana, who retired in 2011, wrote Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to inform him that the staff at Effigy Mounds "has been seriously at odds with the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act, and National Park Service policies pertaining to conservation planning and decisionmaking."

While Superintendent Ewing lost her authority under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act over such projects, Regional Director Quintana told the investigator he didn't fire her because he didn't think she had any "devious desire to do something wrong."

From his viewpoint, Superintendent Nepstad said what occurred at Effigy Mounds will be a lasting lesson for the Park Service.

"The actions themselves that led to all of this were unfortunate. I don't think the agency is trying to hide that," he said. "Everybody is disappointed with what happened at Effigy Mounds, and quite frankly it really, truly, and I say this with utter sincerity, it is going to be used, the case history surrounding the activities at Effigy Mounds, are going to be used as a teaching tool all across the National Park Service. The agency in all likelihood will be putting a blue ribbon team together to exhaustively go over what happened here. And what were the root causes, where were the contributing factors, what were the lessons learned that we can teach anybody that works for the National Park Service, whether it's at the park or region or Washington office level to prevent this kind of a thing from ever happening again anywhere."

Although impressed with Superintendent Nepstad -- "He's really wearing a white cowboy hat. He's one of the good guys." -- Mr. Mason said that regaining the Park Service's reputation at the monument will be a challenge.

"I was really proud of being a ranger and my role there. This has really stained, put a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths," said Mr. Mason, who added that the friends group wants the National Park Service's Washington office to "fast-track allocations from D.C. directly to the regional office, this calendar year, for no other purpose to remove all the illegally constructed boardwalks and decks. Clean that park up."


What a shameful incident. It will take time and hard work to fix what has been done both physically and culturally, but dealing with it straight ahead and open as they are now doing is the only way.

The only thing I find shocking about this is that somebody got fired.

I have visited Effigy Mounds, this about 10 years ago, it was a very interesting place, I do not recall any boardwalks, etc. I must admit, just based on the article above, I find it hard to believe high ranking officials were so clueless as to the requirements involved in doing what was done. Somebody was fast asleep at the wheel. The Supts. comments were also disconcerting, she just delegated all the responsible to a subordinate, never asked any questions, well, it certainly was malfeasance, intentional or not. I am also surprised a person would be appointed to this position at Effigy Mounds without some demonstrated expertise in the archeology (or at least some background in the field), this area was set aside for.

I can't help but point out and feel a little bit of pride that all of this was brought to light by a seasonal park ranger who'd put in 19 seasons. Fortunatly he didn't stay in his place and keep out of managment business as some in the parkland watch set have intimated seasonals should do.

For those who wish to learn more about the dirty underside of the NPS I suggest reading The Case of the Indian Trader. This investigative book bares how corrupt the NPS was and still is in certain parks.

Actually, in this day in age, I am surprised that something this blatant could occur without direct intervention by those inside the NPS responsible for cultural resource protection. My own concerns are similar to those expressed above by Ron Mackie. How did this happen? What qualifications and commitment to cultural resources protection did the park superintendent have prior to her appointment to this important position? Why did it take a decade before action was taken to rectify this issue?


Prepare for some pushback here from the "NPS does no wrong" contingent. The corruption in this agency is documented and undeniable. Except to those with ties to the NPS who have befitted from it.

Backpacker - I'm a supporter of the NPS, but I was the first comment on this thread and called the original situation 'shameful'. I am glad to see the daylight being focused on this by NPS management, even though it is so late. My wife works in cultural resources elsewhere and was shocked and dismayed when I showed her the article.

What is every bit as likely as your scenario, the NPS is always wrong contingent jumping in. Of course, it's easy for me to call something 'likely' when it is happening.

Backpacker, there is no "never do wrong" contingent here and never was. All of us who have had first hand experience know all too well that wrong doing is entirely possible and that it can be very difficult to try to bring it to light.

But let's keep things in perspective. There is a possibility for wrongdoing ANY time humans are involved. This is a disgraceful situation at EFMO, but even more disgraceful is the apparent fact that people much higher up the food chain were either asleep or were under some kind of political pressures from someone even higher up.

There certainly needs to be a complete and thorough investigation, but based on past experience, it will stop short of the real source of the problem. A problem that may not even be inside the NPS but could lie in influence from somewhere or someone outside the agency.

or were under some kind of political pressures from someone even higher up.

Do you have even a shred of evidence of political pressure?

Lee, I agree, I do not think anyone takes the position that the NPS always does everything right, we all look at things a little differently, some may view an incident much more stridently than others. Politics at every level is almost always an important factor in the decision process. Agree or not, it is our system and it is particularly polarized right now. One contributor mentioned that some of us gained most of our experience working in the public service field, those that spent most of their working life in the private sector might look at things quite a bit differently. There is some truth to this, but it works both ways. One interesting aspect of my public experience work assignments is that, while on duty, you serve all citizens, I still do it daily in my fire assignments. It was/is a very rewarding experience for me personally.

I spent nine years at a high tech international corporation then spent seven years in public service. The Peter Principle is alive and well in both. There are equal amounts of cronyism, bad management, and waste. In general, in both entities, the employees did what they thought was in the 'best interests' of the entity though they didn't always look at the broader picture or at future impacts of their planning/implementation. Most (but by no means all) people generally want what is best; the problem lies in short-sightedness and lack of a real understanding/knowledge of all aspects of any project.

A problem also arises with lower level employees blindly following directives of higher-ups, even when they know they are questionable legally and ethically. I found this in both positions but it was more culturally ingrained in the private sector. The problem - at least in my position - in the private sector is that the only thing that counts is the bottom line. The need to please shareholders promotes deception and fraud, something you don't see in such large scale in the public service domain.

But, this is just my opinion based on my experience with both. If I ever return to the job market, it will not be mid-level management at a publicly traded company. I like sleeping at night.

Thank you Dahkota, Us humans are an interesting breed, but I agree, the neo-liberal economic theory of unrestrained capitalism is a real problem. It cannot not be just about money, as important as having some of it is. One quick story, I remember when the federal civil service retirement system was changed to what is now called FERS, a somewhat free market approach to retirement planning. The Park managers in the area I worked in were just getting into the internet age and were having trouble getting the work force to input work related data daily into their desk computers. Boy did that change, first thing every morning before anyone thought of the days activities, every shop computer was on so we could see how much money we were making on our investment accounts. We used to laugh about it a lot.

he neo-liberal economic theory of unrestrained capitalism is a real problem.

rmackie, Please tell me where I can find this "unrestrained capitalism"

According to the Office of the Federal Register, in 1998, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the official listing of all regulations in effect, contained a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes that claimed 19 feet of shelf space. In 1970, the CFR totaled only 54,834 pages.

The Fed Register has nearly trippled since 1970 to 134,723 pages. Obviously not all of these regs impact capitalism but my guess is that most do either directly or indirectly.

EC, a fair question. I am certainly not an expert, but you might be interested in reading Naomi Kline, "The Shock Doctrine," for starters, my son introduced me to the book. There are many others, Thom Hartman, "Unegual Protection" or his latest book, "The Crash of 2016". On the issue of the financial crisis of 2007, "To Big to Fail" by Andrew Sorkin is quite interesting. Mr Sorkin was a financial investigator for the Wall Street Journal. Not being an accomplished historian by any means, a recent great book on the progressive Republican party efforts under Presidents T. Roosevelt and Howard Taft titled "The Bully Pulpit" by Doris Kerns Goodwin is really fascinating. It goes into great detail on the political fights over the Sherman Anti-trust Act, the Tillman Act and discussions leading up to Glass/Stigill (and other progressive reforms). In any case, I know you and I disagree on this issue, but the above a brief listing of books that make the case against laissez-faire economics.

Yawn, SSDD for the NPS.

..but here in Florida if you pick up an artifact or arrowhead on public lands it's a felony... go figure.

Do you have even a shred of evidence that there has been no political pressure?

Do you have even a shred of evidence that there has been no political pressure?

Ah, back to the argument of those that have no facts. Demand the proof of a negative. In other words, you have no shred of evidence that there has been political pressure.

but the above a brief listing of books that make the case against laissez-faire economics.

laissez-faire economics exist only in your imagination. There is nothing laissez-faire about our economic system.

Regarding the question of political influence: I have the impression that wasn't a big factor here. Maybe it was and I just missed it somewhere but what I took from reading the articles about this and skimming through some of the interview notes of the investigating agent is that this superintendent was just flat out incompetent and had no business being in the position. That of course begs the question of why she was put in the position? The first place I'd look to answer that question is who is she related to or who was she buddies with long ago who smoothed her path to the position.

This probably happend because accomplishing some big project does a lot more for ones career in managment than simply maintaining a park in as good or better a condition than when you arrived. And that is a shame. Sometimes you have to know when to leave something alone. They want to be able to put on that resume "i implement this" or "oversaw that."

Because this is the government it does a lot more for your career to keep your bosses and coworkers happy than to keep the visitor (the customer)happy and the resources protected. In fact I've found that too often in order to really do the job you have to up set some bosses and coworkers. Situations where the boss and coworkers are only happy if the mission is being accomplished to the highest possible standard are rare at least in my field. I have an impression that high standards are met more often in law enforcement.

I've worked under some really cunning and conniving empire building superintendents. I would not trust them as far as I could throw them but none of them were as dumb as the one in this case at Effigy Mounds. Normally they tend to be intelligent -duplicitus devious, and decietful yes, but intelligent. What spelled her doom was just how wanton it was. Most of the routine wrong doing has some element of plausable dinability or depends of matters of interpretation. Ordering structures build on ancient indian mounds has no shade of gray. Even the NPS could not look the other way after a while. And I'm sure the prospect of having the tribes angry at them made it unsustainable for her.

And you wonder Kurt why Jarvis won't sit down for an interview --running stories like this. 80% of the NPS managment has the same mentality as the mayor in Jaws "na there is nothing wrong here everything is perfect shinny and wonderful."

Thank you for doing it.

One wonders why no charges were pressed. If any of us did a quarter of what those two idiots did, we'd be in jail. I can't figure out the motives, but it seems pretty clear that the legal system if fairly lenient in this case.

And you have none that there has not. Where are your facts?

But remember, political pressures come from many sources and all levels. Some are from colleagues in the same organization, some from local businesses, some from local or state government, some from higher up the agency food chain, some from Congress and some from God herself.

And except for God's, the rest are often driven by money. (Then again, maybe God's are, too. Tithing?)

Perpetual has done a good job of explaining a lot of what I mean -- in this case, at least.

And you have none that there has not.

I don't need any. I didn't make the charge.

Kurt, are these boardwalks in the "Compound Mound Group" in the South Unit?

A concern I have is that the National Park Service, of late, is selecting individuals with very little experience into Superintendencies. In the last several months, the NPS has selected several individuals with less than 10 years of service, not just in the NPS but in any land management agency. The common theme I have noticed is that all got their start in the Comptrollers office in Washington. My concern is that they may have the budget process down, but where is their experience in any of the operational aspects of NPS? No, or very little, evidence of experience in natural and cultural resource management, maintenance, interpretation or protection. My concern is that they don't even know what they don't know about the legal requirements placed on the agency in these operational areas. I am afraid that with these inexperienced managers we are going to see more issues like these at Effigy Mounds.

Well, Old Ranger, in the case we are talking about, Effigy Mounds, that bit about the Comptrollers Office "in the past several months" doesn't seem connected. This assignment to Effigy happened in the 1990's. This person, according to the investigation interviews, came up through interpretation and then to collections management. She says she was put on a fast track to promotion to superintendent in the 1990s. In one year she went from one park as collections, to curator at another, to acting superintendent at that newer park (both history parks and both with potential archaelogical resources everywhere). She was then assigned the following year (ie: year two) as regular superintendent, was then transfered to a park in the MWR again as superintendent, and only a year or so later, became Effigy Mounds superintendent. So, she had had career experience in cultural resources management, albeit in records management and protection. She claims not o have had 106 background, but plainly that is not true from her interview because she fined a railroad company for dumping materials on her park as a historic resource violation. She acknowledges that when her compliance officer-cultural resource officer took another job, she was grateful to be able to use the lapse money in her other divisions which were short of funding, and could not get funding restored from the Region. (OMB will not allow you to get a park base increase for an activity that was zeroed out because of funding attrition, it is one of the real horrors of today's NPS funding problems -- but what it says about this superintendent is that she did not know the first thing about how to get money in the NPS. Or, makes it look as if she does not understand, so to add blame to the Region for failing. Yet, obviously, had she wanted to she had an open position of cultural resource manager in a cultural resource park and could have filled it with a competent professional.

In short Old Ranger, it seems this superintendent had had two previous superintendencies under her belt. The Regional Director in his interview says he was alarmed when he learned there management team had fallen apart, another major sign of disfunction. I am not trying to absolve the Regional Director who seems to have had several such blowouts, and the Regional Director was quickly replaced. The interviewer seems to imply he was invited to leave.

But Old Ranger, it does not seem in this case that what we are talking about someone from the Comptrollers Office, even if that office is a den of iniquity (shudder).

Textbook Peter Principle.

I hope that the NPS learns to include the public in their decision making process as is required by the National Environmental Protection Act. I also hope that the public as well as NPS employees are made aware of the NPS Inspector General's Office and are encouraged to file complaints about anything that seems suspicious at the NPS. I hope the public and the NPS emplyees learn to question NPS authority and if their questions aren't properly answered to file FOIA requests and Inspector General complaints. I hope that the public and the NPS employees used the FOIA to learn more about whatever concerns them regarding the NPS. I hope the NPS managment is humbled by this event and learns to not be above the Law and to understand that they are public servants and not our masters.

Dear Whippering1:wouldn't you agree that it is pretty clear from the record that those lessons WERE learned by the park service, and documented several years ago?

That long before a legal case could be constructed, the superintendent was removed and replaced by someone skilled in cultural resource compliance?

That a year later the Regional Director was gone, never to work for the NPS again?

That the most damning reports, the ones everyone since including the media have relied on and were quoting from were written 3 YEARS AGO, and by National Park Investigators?

That plainly the park service management is repulsed by the behavior?

That the investigator documented that the superintendent HAD been given the training to fully prepare her to manage this properly?

That the NPS had given her the Programatic Agreement on historic preservation that clearly outlines all the steps she shoukd have taken?And, had she taken these steps, the destruction would not have occurred?

That the whistleblower-chief ranger admitted to the investigators that he had not pushed hard enough, and regretted he had not pushed harder, as his PRIMARY regret?

The superintendent's interview says she was unable to perform properly because she was too busy with restoration of Native American burial site materials. That seems lame. She also says she did not fill her vacant cultural resources staff/environmental compliance slot because she did not have the money, and (foolishly) chose to distribute the money to other divisions that were hurting. This seems lame too, but if you believe she was right and the higher-ups are to blame for this for that reason, then all of us taxpayers and voters are partly to blame, too. Right?

Instead, the whole park service is horrified that anyone could ignore so much clear direction. From the reaction, the failure to do the historic preservation review at Effigy Mounds is the exception to the other parks, not the rule.

So Whippering1, what is undone that that you are saying needs to change?

Perhaps, for one thing you may suggest, the central offices have not centralized everything and taken over running every park.

Historically, that approach has been opposed because central control would be less responsive, less creative. But that way might assure that not much would ever happen unless totally approves by higher authority first.

or, you might suggest we could spend they money to restore the huge number of professional jobs in the central offices that have been stripped away. Those professionals used to be there and had the time and authority and travel bus budget to Check Up on the parks. But, not any more. Travel budget to check up is gone. So are many people. I heard the other day only 3 historians are left in all of Alaska for the NPS, a premier historic preservation agency.

Are we taxpayers prepared to accept any responsibility for the congress we elect ?

AND SO: The laws are pretty clear. The superintendent was trained. The Washington Office acted and within two years both managers in the position of responsibility were out of their jobs, the investigation done and the report written. By 2010 the NPS explained to the Media and the interested entities outside the park what had happen.

The only thing new we have learned now is the superintendent has actually been fired from the isolated job she was put in while the investigations unfolded, and that the US Atty would not take the case. (Probably, because the prosecution new the jury would not convict if you claim your supervisor never spent they money you needed.

So Whippering1, what symptomatic problems exist that need your solutions? Do you really think what happened here is because "NPS management" thinks they are "above the law and are your masters"?? I don't see how removing the superintendent and removing the Regional Director shows that NPS management thinks they are above the law. The report certainly makes it sound like this outrage is the reason the Regional Director is gone a year after he notified his boss of what the park staff did. If they felt they are not public servants, wouldn't the NPS management make no changes at all? Why would they do the media statements? Why would they have changed staff communication and training as the report says they did? Are these signs of lack of humility? Or are you saying that human failure never happens anywhere except in the park service and proves that everybody thinks they are your masters and not public servants? What are you saying?

Or, could we be dealing with one bad actor, and not an organizational breakdown ?

d-2. I never indicated that I believed that this was a case of ignorance or that the Comptroller was involved in this. I was simply indicating my concern that we may in the future see more examples of resource degredation/damage/destruction due to lack of expeience on managers parts, due to current hiring trends. Nothing more was intended by my comment.

d-2, thank you for your insightful posts on the Effigy Mounds issue. Please excuse, but on the issue of "laissez faire" economics, the Webster's Dictionary "a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights", or a philosophy or practice characterized by deliberate abstention from direction or interference with individual freedom of choice and action". EC, did pull up your web page, great shot of both yourself and the mountains in the background. There are sectors of economic activity that are on steroids, primarily in the financial sector thanks to the deregulation of many safeguards waived by supporters of the above, including emaciating the laws of governmental regulation agencies and the federal/state budget austerity measures primarily based on "the no tax issues". The corporations are persons issue has exacerbated the issues. Way off subject, please excuse.

rmackie - Thanks for the compliment on the pics. The irony is that is Mt Democrat a 14er I climed along with Lincoln and Bross one day. Lincoln would be more appropriate for me but it wasn't as good a picture.

Your definition of laissex faire is absolutetly accurate. But in todays environment it is a "doctrine" not something that is practiced. We have regulation coming out the wazoo.

deregulation of many safeguards waived by supporters of the above ...emaciating the laws of governmental regulation agencies

Could you be specific? Exactly what regulations have been eliminated or emaciated and what were the ill effects? Since the Fed register has tripled in size in the last 40 years, its hard for me to see how we have been deregulated.

Since the Fed register has tripled in size in the last 40 years, its hard for me to see how we have been deregulated.

I don't understand the relationship between the size of the Federal Register and government regulations.The register is a daily digest that includes proposals to rules, presidental documents, meeting notices (including NPS), and other notices. The most recent register is 203 pages; only 5 rules but 106 other documents of government actions/interaction. None of the rules are business regulations.

It is great to try to use the size of the daily government journal over time to insist the government is over regulating but the size of the journal, which contains a lot of information that has no relationship to regulations, has no bearing on business regulations. But I did note that The Daily Caller was harping on it a while back. Perhaps that is where you got your outrage?

dahkota - As I noted earlier, the Register is not a perfect measure of the amount of regulation but it is an indicator of government activity. As you noted in one day, it discussed 5 new rules and 100 other government actions. Is that "less regulation"? Do you really believe we have less regulations today than 10, 20, 40 years ago?

It would be interesting to see how many of those rules and government actions were lobbied for by the business community...

Or by labor unions, environmental lobbies, public employees .......

BTW not only has the federal register grown the Code of Federal Regulations - i.e the list of all regulations has nearly tripled since 1970 to more than 134,000 pages.

Judging by this 2012 list of Washington's top lobbyists, "labor unions, environmental lobbies, and public employees" can't hold a candle to big business and association lobbies...

Hmmm - According to this list, Unions are 6 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 16 excluding the top giver, ActBlue, a democratic party front. Almost all (questionably with the exception of the NEA) were heavily weighted democratic in their giving. The 3 business are catagorized as giving equally to both parties.

Plus, I would suspect the businesses were lobby against rather than for more regulation.

ebuck, what I appreciate most about your posts is the spirit of populism. There is another form of measurement you might appreciate in Washington,DC, in addition to the contributions to labor unions. You should see the wall-to-wall spread of "think tanks," and 'charities,' and associations that have flooded massive amounts of mostly I reportable support dollars. But I think you smart enough and sometimes even disarmingly honest enough to recognize represent the both new Right conservative groups and 1% business leadership. All of whom are skilled and indefatigable craftsmen able to place twists and turns in the CFR that are welcomed by mammoth Christmas bonuses. I used to work on K St. and 17th, but my certain knowledge and confidence in your understanding is further reinforced by a cousin who was Chairman of TWO major top 10 corporations. He was being hit on constantly for many obfusticating layers of these devices for donations. Including the Left, but as I am sure you would understand, overwhelmingly of the Right.

My personal and legal experience informs me -- as it MUST you -- that regulations are a basic corporate technique to avoid liability.

Plus, with billable hours, attys and consultants for Rightist and corporate accounts are compensated more if they dream up and push regulatory devices the clients didn't even think they needed until this army of predators convinced them they could not live without. The same is true for staff to non-profits like NRA , not because they actually believe 2nd Amend rights are actually threatened, but because keeping everyone in a lather masquerades as indispensability.

So, as once again ebuck, you have piped us away from the primary issue of the health of parks to your favorite corner of topics, I think in one of your flashes of disarming honesty you will concede that our Capital has been transformed since Mr. Reagan from a city of neighborhoods and dinner parties to a sort of running of the Bulls of expense account wielding Rightist flunkeys at restaurants and Clubs. Now DC has strips of buildings in every direction that look like Legos, the right-wing consultant version of the Quonset huts of WW II workers. Don't go to DC if you have sanity to preserve, but if you do go and if any objectivity remains, you will hear from the conversation everywhere that it is a Rightist monoculture. The labor unions are there to create the illusion of political diversity.

No d-2 - I don't believe "our Capital has been transformed since Mr. Reagan from a city of neighborhoods and dinner parties to a sort of running of the Bulls of expense account wielding Rightist flunkeys at restaurants and Clubs." In fact the list I provided Kurt earlier shows that when it comes to political dollars, the leftists dominate the field. Nor do I believe the "right" as a group have pushed for more regulations. Certainly there have been nominal Republicans that have done so and they have rightfully been catagorized as RINOs. In fact it is the rise of such "Republicans" which has given emergence to a true conservative movement known as the Tea Party

Further, I not believe that dollars are the dominant determinate of policy. Instead I lay it on voter apathy and ignorance.

d-2 --

Your experience matches mine. Back before the fools with the tri-corner Lipton-bag hats, in my misguided youth, I was a conservative activist in D.C. I enjoyed expense account lunches at the Palm with oil company lobbyists, dated an NRA lobbyist, even had an hour or two of bliss once with a good time gal provided by an oil company lobbyist making her 'thank you' rounds on an election eve. This was in the glory days of Ford moving towards Reagan, and I met both men. Names and faces I knew then have helped guide policy to aid the businesses and profits of the right wing ever since. To me this isn't history or "document that" or 'show me the links' or whatever - this is people I shared a glass of scotch with, many of whom are still pulling strings.

I didn't stick around more than a few years. I developed a conscience, both personal and social, and evolved.

Let's get back to the parks, though. Driving up a pot-hole filled dirt road yesterday to look at a glacier was a more rewarding experience than all those old memories.

So Rick, it sounds to me like Monica L. may have surpassed you in the DC experience category. Maybe we should check her conscience epiphany at this point.

BTW: Has anyone seen anyone in this administration, anyone on a raft trip, Mule ride, wilderness experience that might show the least bit of real fondness for these great places beyond Gov't employees unions, radical environental groups and their votes and political contributions? Please don't count all the Federal owned (and private) golf courses. Even Dick Cheney had more involvment with nature, fly fishing and in other endeavors although, he needed to improve his hunting skills at one point.

Yep, I'm going with Monica and her analysis of character in high places:).

Just an FYI, so far the top spenders in the lobby game are Chambers of Commerce. The list can be found here:

ec, your list was of political donors, not lobbyists. When discussing lobbying, providing a list of political donors doesn't provide pertinent information.

In spending on lobbying, it doesn't seem to be a red or blue thing; it is a business thing. Pharmaceutical companies, Insurance companies, Defense contractors, Electric Utilities...


In reading the report, I am struck by a couple of things:

"[redacted] discussed the implication that EFMO did not deserve a fully committed and professional superintendent."

"[redacted] was sending false reports to the regional office..."

So, it seems that the Peter Principle was not at work here. Ewing intentionally lied, misrepresented, and acted with malice. I find it fascinating that, in the face of the evidence against her, she is fighting her firing, claiming she is a scapegoat.

When discussing lobbying, providing a list of political donors doesn't provide pertinent information.

Actually, my discussion was about too many regulations. It was Kurt that introduced lobbyest. And yes, lobbying is a red and blue thing but goes well beyond "business" to include environmental groups, labor unions and advocates for thousands of causes. But, there is nothing wrong with that.

Do you think those businesses were lobbying for more regulation of their business?

Jarvis is a disgrace to the American public. Thanks to those who drug this desecration into the light (both on the ground and in the media), and in being honest about the episode, at least the new Superintendent got off on the right foot.

Jarvis is a cancer on the NPS. No doubt about it. And all his cronies like Dale Ditmanson just followed his crooked lead. But what can be done? What will be done? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Wow. Go ahead and get your venom out - if you hold that much bile inside you'll explode. But it seems to me that a bad superintendent screwed up and got booted.

Discovering Visitor Passion for National Park Values There seems such a disconnect between managementdecisions of NPS superintendents and senior staffand the special values visitors discover in National Park naturalresources all embodied by an indescribable Beauty of Earth's Life. If you are depressed by reports of NPSMismanagement, why not take the time to digest these visual experiences shared by all who continue to be truly passionate about the Beauty found in America's Parks natural areas.