The National Park Service (NPS) is “toxic,” mismanaged and fraught with sexual harassment, and now Congress wants to clean up the department.
“There seems to be some patterns here that are just not anything we should come close to tolerating,” Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said during a hearing Thursday.
Three current NPS employees testified about their experiences of abuse at parks like Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Cape Canaveral National Seashore.
A 32-year veteran of NPS and the U.S. Forest Service told of three separate times federal employees harassed her during her service. Kelly Martin, who worked at Grand Canyon National Park early in her career, revealed her experiences of sexual harassment by parks employees. (RELATED: Park Service Perverts Groped Female Colleagues, Got Wrist Slaps)
“One morning as I entered the shower, I noticed a shadow pass by my bathroom window,” Martin told the committee Thursday. “An individual in a park ranger uniform stopped just shy of my window and proceeded to back up and stoop down to look directly at me through the window.”
Martin identified the employee, and though she told supervisors, she did not file an official complaint or criminal charge.
Martin described two other incidents of harassment, including one where she had to push away a superior trying to kiss her.
“The supervisory response to my three sexual harassment incidents was one of minimizing my experience and attempting to resolve the situation with a mere apology from the perpetrator instead of imposing more appropriate disciplinary action,” Martin told the committee. (RELATED: Park Service Execs Commit Ethical Misconduct, Get Punished With Promotions)
“Maybe it’s time to get … some of the rotten apples still in the barrel, out of the barrel,” said GOP Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis, adding she would ask the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to draw up the memos.
Lummis said that officials in the Park Service tolerated harassment “in order to advance their careers into the highest positions in the National Park Service. It is time to ferret out that kind of toxic culture.”
Employees at Yosemite National Park “are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized from their roles as dedicated professionals,” Martin said. Yosemite park superintendent Don Neubacher has “publicly humiliated” and intimidated workers who complain of misconduct, Martin and other employees said.
NPS is implementing “a comprehensive plan to identify and stop harassment, educate our staff at all levels about their rights and responsibilities, and create a safe and respectful work environment for every employee,” spokesperson Jeremy Barnum told Fox News.
Jonathan Jarvis, director of NPS, “has made clear to all NPS employees that when incidents of harassment are reported, NPS managers must take the allegations seriously … and act promptly to ensure the harassment … does not continue,” Barnum said.
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