More complaints and allegations have surfaced regarding sexual harassment within the national park system—particularly in Yellowstone and Yosemite.
The offenses range from voyeurism to stalking to improper physical interactions to several incidents of physical assault and “quid pro quo” harassment.
According to the Washington Post, at a congressional hearing earlier this week, lawmakers grilled NPS representatives over incidents of sexual harassment and accusations that the agency fosters “hostile workplaces,” especially for women and minorities.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) reported 18 employees at Yosemite National Park had come forward alleging “harassment, bullying, and a hostile work environment.” Chaffetz chided the agency for condoning said “horrific working conditions” and believes the environment is “indeed toxic, hostile, repressive and harassing.”
The allegations are not new; we previously reported on alleged misconduct after Yellowstone officials were criticized for allowing Sports Illustrated to photograph swimsuit models around the Park—some of which were later featured in National Geographic’s May 2016 Issue.
In our previous report, Grand Canyon and Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore were cited as hubs of sexual misconduct in the national park system, as related in a report published in January 2016. From the Washington Post:
Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall’s office also is investigating claims that women in the maintenance division at Yellowstone National Park were subjected for years to sexual harassment by their supervisors, one of whom is alleged to have paid a laborer on the park staff for sex. The allegations were reported this month by Montana Pioneer, which quoted an engineering equipment operator employed by the park.
Chaffetz called the accusations “so alarming you would expect the Washington office to come in immediately and make sure things are safe.”
Lawmakers also criticized NPS officials for not taking any substantive actions; the Post reports none of the employees accused of misconduct in Grand Canyon have been fired since the news broke ten months ago. Some lawmakers have called for the resignation of NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
According to the Post, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk became aware of the allegations in early September “and immediately took steps to investigate.” Investigators from the inspector general’s office have been dispatched. We will cooperate fully and when we receive the findings of the investigation appropriate action will be taken.”