Friday, June 01, 2018

Facing reassignment under Trump, top Yellowstone official will retire instead

A highly respected National Park Service executive who engineered the reopening of the Statue of Liberty after the 2001 terrorist attacks and settled the contentious issue of snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park will announce his retirement Friday as Interior Department officials consider a proposal to reassign him to Washington. Daniel Wenk, who as Yellowstone superintendent holds one of the agency’s most coveted jobs, hopes to retire effective March 30 — a date that would allow him far more time at his Mammoth, Wyo.-based post than the 60 days he would have to vacate his office after a reassignment. “It has been an honor and a privilege working for the National Park Service for the last almost 43 years,” Wenk wrote in a letter, an excerpt of which was provided to The Washington Post. He asked to delay his departure for several reasons, including sealing agreements with the state of Montana and a Native American tribe to move bison from Yellowstone to Fort Peck, 400 miles away. Wenk would not comment on why Interior identified him for a transfer. But those close to him call the move “punitive” and “political” by an administration that demands loyalty over issues of deep concern to Wenk, such as wilderness preservation and conservation. The department declined Thursday to comment about Wenk, instead issuing a general statement about President Trump’s executive order to reorganize the federal government. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “has been absolutely out front on that issue,” the statement by spokeswoman Heather Swift said...MORE

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