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Trump never appointed a National Park Service director. Here’s what Biden needs to do for the NPS

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a group composed of more than 1,800 current, retired, and former employees of the National Park Service (NPS), is calling on President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to fight the climate crisis and protect national parks and public lands. 

And the Coalition calls for an NPS director, because under the Trump administration, for the first time in its over 100-year history, the NPS has been without one for an entire presidential administration term.

As the Coalition’s website states:

The Coalition counts among its members: former National Park Service directors, deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, park rangers (law enforcement and interpretive), maintenance professionals, administrative professionals, and an array of other career professionals who devoted an average of 30 years each to protecting, interpreting, and maintaining America’s national parks on behalf of the public.

And it’s these people who have put together a road map for Biden to move beyond four years under the Trump administration, which the Coalition says saw the “politicization of our national parks” and “a disdain for the NPS mission and its employees.”

During Biden’s campaign, he promised to restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah (the latter is pictured above), enact a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling on public lands (he’ll need to protect the Arctic Wildlife Refuge issue, which saw its drilling auction flop), and announce a conservation plan to protect 30% of US land and water by 2030.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks’ recommendations come after reports that under the Trump administration, “energy companies stockpiled enough drilling permits for western public lands to keep pumping oil for years and undercut Biden’s plans to curb new drilling because of climate change.” The Trump administration issued more than 4,700 drilling permits in 2020.

You can read the full list of the Coalition’s recommendations here, which contains a scathing executive summary against the outgoing Trump administration and includes the following personnel recommendations:

  • Restore effective leadership within the NPS by promptly nominating a director for Senate confirmation, and by prioritizing the filling of senior vacancies, including superintendent and program manager positions.
  • Restore the previous NPS regional structure and deliver a clear message to all employees about their supervisory reporting requirements.
  • Address a demoralized NPS workforce.

And when it comes to land, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks calls for:

  • Proactively protecting National Park resources and values from adverse impacts associated with federal oil and gas leasing and development on park lands (under NPS management), as well as on public lands adjacent to parks (under management by the Bureau of Land Management).
  • Establishing a cooperative agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission establishing early notification and coordination requirements with NPS regarding proposed development of electricity, natural gas, and oil transmission facilities through or within units of the National Park System.
  • Establishing a plan to ensure that full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund will go to the highest-priority land acquisition needs.

Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, said in a statement emailed to Electrek:

Aside from the blatant disregard for the NPS and its employees, there is no telling what the long-term impacts of some of the Trump administration’s harmful policies on our national parks will really be as they revised regulations affecting endangered species, migratory birds, clean air and clean water, and a host of others that are still tied up in litigation. 

We are calling for immediate relief for our national parks and the people who work day in and day out to protect them. It is time to restore the National Park Service to the proud agency it has been for over a century and to allow our national parks to thrive and continue to be enjoyed by millions of visitors each year.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.