Demands for sex, bias against women at some national parks
Jul. 28, 2017
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park's superintendent says he's taking action against as many as 10 employees following a sex harassment investigation.
Similar problems have surfaced at some of the nation's other premier parks and among senior leadership in the Interior Department. A look at some of the allegations and what's happened as a result:
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
ALLEGATION: A six-month investigation by the Department of Interior's Office of Inspector General that concluded in March found male supervisors and staff in the maintenance division created a work environment that included unwelcome and inappropriate comments and actions toward women.
FALLOUT: Superintendent Dan Wenk says that by early August, he'll discipline as many as 10 workers with potential penalties ranging from letters of counseling or reprimand to firing. Yellowstone also plans to adopt a new alcohol policy to curb after-hours drinking at remote work locations and to audit employee use of government-issued charge cards.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
ALLEGATION: Claims by dozens of employees that former Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher had created a toxic work environment were revealed last September during congressional hearings examining widespread reports of misconduct in the park system. An investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general released in April said dozens of employees reported witnessing Neubacher undermine the competence or performance of employees, ridiculing ideas as "dopey" or "stupid" or saying they would make park managers "look like bozos." The report also said Neubacher had showed bias against women.
FALLOUT: Neubacher retired in September. He denied harassing employees or creating a hostile work environment.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
ALLEGATION: A January 2016 report by the inspector general said male employees at the Grand Canyon preyed on female colleagues during what could be weeks-long trips on the Colorado River. Investigators said the men demanded sex and retaliated against women who refused and that former Superintendent Dave Uberuaga and his deputy failed to properly investigate or report allegations of misconduct.
FALLOUT: Uberuaga retired in June 2016 after declining an offer to transfer to another position with the park service in Washington, D.C. The park unit that ran river trips was dismantled and some of its duties contracted out. Employees presented a plan to reinstate the unit earlier this month that includes a proposal for a new operations manager to oversee the unit and report directly to the superintendent.
CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE
ALLEGATION: Investigators found Canaveral's chief ranger, Edwin Correa, sexually harassed three employees over five years. He agreed to perform 50 hours of community service and write an apology letter to resolve a misdemeanor charge after he was accused of kissing and touching another ranger against her will, the Dayton Beach News-Journal reported on June 1.
FALLOUT: Correa was no longer an employee of the park service as of May 12, the agency said Friday.
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT LAW ENFORCEMENT CHIEF
ALLEGATION: An inspector general's investigation released in February said Interior Department Director of Law Enforcement and Security Tim Lynn acted inappropriately toward at least six female employees by touching and hugging them and making flirtatious remarks. At least one employee said Lynn retaliated against her. Lynn acknowledged some of the allegations but said he had not meant to make the women uncomfortable.
FALLOUT: Lynn retired in April after the results of investigation were made public.