News

Park Service employees hopeful for change

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Latest on harassment and other conditions in the National Park Service (all times local):
  
3:20 p.m.
  
One of the 13 people who reported sexual harassment at the Grand Canyon in 2014 says change will happen only with persistence.
  
The National Park Service released results of an employee survey Friday that shows nearly two in five workers experienced some sort of harassment or discrimination.
  
Kate Watters and others wrote to the Interior Department in 2014 saying male colleagues in the Grand Canyon's now former river district had preyed on female colleagues, demanded sex and retaliated against those who refused.
  
She said Friday that the behavior is institutionalized, and victims often were shamed for reporting misconduct.
  
Watters says she's spoken to the current Grand Canyon superintendent and offered feedback on training to prevent sexual harassment.
  
She says she doesn't understand why positive changes didn't happen sooner.
 ___

2:45 p.m.
  
Protesters stood outside the Grand Canyon hotel where Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had lunch Friday to protest his recommendation to shrink a national monument in southern Utah.
  
The protesters held a sign that read: "Ax Zinke not Bears Ears."
  
Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity says Zinke's visit to the Grand Canyon is insulting.
  
Some visitors applauded the protesters, while others told them their passions are displaced.
  
Zinke joined acting National Park Service director Mike Reynolds and Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Chris Lehnertz for lunch at El Tovar hotel on the South Rim.
  
Earlier Friday, they released results of a Park Service study that found nearly two in five permanent employees have experienced harassment or discrimination.
___
  
12: 30 p.m.
  
National Park Service employees say they're hopeful the culture of harassment within the agency will change.
  
A survey of employees released Friday found widespread complaints of harassment and discrimination within the agency.
  
Acting Park Service director Mike Reynolds and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with employees at the Grand Canyon on Friday. They assured employees that more resources would be dedicated to combat the problems.
  
James Purcell is the South Rim district ranger at the Grand Canyon. He says Zinke's plan is progressive and sets out a more organized way to report complaints.
  
Another Park Service employee, Brenda Karl, says she appreciates the honesty and frankness of the conversation. She says employees also expect results. She says the leadership needs to keep stopping bullying and intimidation on its radar.
  
___

  
10:45 a.m.
  
U.S. officials say a survey of National Park Service employees found widespread complaints of harassment and discrimination and that improved training and enforcement are aiming to combat the problems.
  
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and acting Park Service Director Mike Reynolds announced the actions and the survey results Friday at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
  
The Interior Department says nearly two of five park service employees surveyed this year had experienced some kind of harassment or discrimination on the job.
  
A sexual harassment scandal forced the retirement of the Grand Canyon superintendent in May 2016.
  
Investigators also have uncovered problems at many of the nation's other premier parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Canaveral National Seashore and Florida's De Soto National Memorial.
  
___
  
11:30 p.m.
  
The National Park Service says it will announce results Friday of an employee survey on harassment, discrimination and intimidation.
  
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and acting Park Service Director Mike Reynolds will be at Grand Canyon National Park to discuss efforts to combat the problems.
  
Widespread reports of misconduct have tarnished the image of the Park Service and the Interior Department.
  
A sexual harassment scandal forced the retirement of a Grand Canyon superintendent in May 2016 and led the park to abolish its river district. Investigators also have uncovered problems at many of the nation's premier parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Canaveral National Seashore and Florida's De Soto National Memorial.
  
The 22,000 Park Service employees were surveyed earlier this year.
  
Zinke and Reynolds will meet with Grand Canyon employees during the visit.


More Stories