Virtually all of the members of a federally chartered panel advising the National Park Service (NPS) have resigned, according to The Washington Post.
The Post on Tuesday reported that nine out of the National Park System Advisory Board’s 12 members abruptly quit the night before.
The group exited over their frustration with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for refusing to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year.
“[We] have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership…as prescribed by law,” departing board chairman Tony Knowles wrote in a letter to Zinke.
“We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matter on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of the agenda,” added Knowles, who is also Alaska’s former Democratic governor.
“I wish the National Park System and Service well and will always be dedicated to their success.”
Monday’s resignations mean that the federal government lacks a functioning body for designating national historic or natural landmarks.
The National Park System Advisory Board was created in 1935, and it has since typically been populated by natural science and social academics alongside former elected officials.
Knowles on Tuesday said that the board is required to meet twice annually but has not reunited since President Trump entered office last January.
“We were frozen out,” he said, emphasizing the resigning group understands that Zinke would have selected new members for the panel once their terms expired in May.
“[We wanted] the momentum to continue,” Knowles added, citing the board’s accomplishments in 2016 during the park system’s centennial year.
Gretchen Long, another departing board member, said Tuesday that the group exited over the Trump administration’s seeming attitude the group’s work “could be so summarily dismissed.”
Two of the panel’s three remaining members have terms set to expire in May, while the last person’s term does not conclude until 2021.