Nine members of the National Park System Advisory Board quit Tuesday, citing concern over the Trump administration’s priorities regarding the national parks, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
The letter, sent by nine members of the board to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, says the group has been unable to meet with Zinke and the Interior Department during his first year in the position.
The author of the letter, former Alaska Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, said the board is supposed to meet twice a year. However, he said, he’s been told things were “suspended.”
Previous administrations met with the board immediately, Knowles noted, having served on the board for seven years.
A request for comment has not been returned by the Interior Department.
The Washington Post reported the resignations Tuesday evening.
“Here we were just being basically stonewalled. … They had no interest in learning our agenda, and what we had to brief them on,” Knowles told CNN. “The board said we need to make a statement. We can’t make a statement to the secretary, then we need to make a public statement.”
Eight of the nine who were part of the letter had terms expiring in May, and suspected Interior was running out the clock.
“For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI as prescribed by law,” the letter reads. “We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new department team are clearly not part of its agenda.”
“I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside,” the letter said.