Wednesday, July 05, 2017

National Park Service Employees Are Going Rogue to Save Our Wildlife

...Those sharp words come from Michelle Botsma, a former park ranger for the National Park Service. During the four years that Botsma worked for the NPS, she made $15 an hour (with a college degree) and was categorized as a "temporary employee." She was also given different job descriptions every six months—a ploy, she claims, by the government so as to avoid paying the cost of employee health care. Botsma's experience was not unique, and because the NPS has been chronically underfunded since its inception, rangers find themselves having to take on dozens of tasks outside of their job description in order to maintain the United States' national parks. While these problems predate the current administration, they've only been exacerbated in the Trump White House. In the first five days of his presidency, Donald Trump issued a gag order for the NPS and the Environmental Protection Agency, preventing employees from sharing research findings, updating their websites, mentioning climate change, or communicating with the public. Since the gag order, dozens of rogue NPS social media accounts have sprang to life, cobbling up hundreds of thousands of followers within just a few months. With the popularity of these rogue accounts, Martinez and others at the NPS receive constant inquiries from journalists, many of them hungry to expose the rangers behind the accounts. Martinez doesn't know who is managing these rogue accounts, but she feels they are a "mixed blessing": They've raised awareness around the issues she and her colleagues are facing, yes, but they've also invited even more public scrutiny...Ramapo College of New Jersey professor Ashwani Vasishth says that, collectively, people must prioritize "[what] we don't want to see happen: oil spills, contamination of groundwater, pollution of nature, noise pollution, air and water pollution, soil erosion. If we could all agree that those are bad things, then there is no leg to stand on these [administration's] moves."So, as NPS employees continue to speak up, the words of the rogue accounts are heard, and public outcry comes in the defense of the agency, a change in the trajectory of environmental irresponsibility of this current government is possible...more 

  As a discerning reader, are you able to pick out the heroes and the villains? LOL

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