In a brief statement on Thursday, Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher announced his retirement as of November 1. In his resignation letter, Neubacher, 63, pointed to a number of accomplishments during his six years at the helm of one of the nation's most iconic parks, but says, "I regret leaving at this time, but want to do what's best for Yosemite National Park. Our employees, our park, and our partners are some of the best in the nation."
His announcement comes just a week after a Congressional hearing regarding harassment at a number of park units, including Yosemite. The House Oversight Committee Chairman, Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, described a hostile work environment at Yosemite, as the "result of the behavior and conduct of the park's superintendent." The committee said last week that over 20 Park Service staff had complained to them about the hostile environment, bullying, and sexual harrassment. During that hearing, four other National Park Service units were discussed as well, including Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks.
Yosemite National Park's Chief of Fire and Aviation Management, Kelly Martin, told the committee that there was a "hostile work environment in Yosemite where dozens of individuals have come forward with personal statements of demoralizing behavior to include acts of bullying, gender bias, and favoritism." She then described, as an example, an experience as the victim of a peeping tom at Grand Canyon.
Superintendent Neubacher, according to Chaffetz, did not agree with the assessment that his conduct was to blame. Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings said, "No employee in the federal civil service should ever be afraid to come to work."