Superintendent Dan Wenk has promised action in addressing sexual harassment claims in the Yellowstone National Park workforce.
A few weeks ago, we reported the Department of the Interior’s inspector general office released a report finding “credible evidence” of sexual harassment against female employees in Yellowstone National Park. Indeed, the inspector general’s office singled out the Yellowstone Maintenance Division as especially bad, where men on the team “created a work environment that included unwelcome and inappropriate comments and actions toward women.”
The news came months after the allegations surfaced in the Montana Pioneer, which were later picked up by the Washington Post. Shortly afterward, federal investigators were dispatched to the park, a move lauded by Wenk.
Indeed, Wenk has maintained a proactive stance throughout the process, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk told the Chronicle’s editorial board Wednesday that the park has increased training on the issue for seasonal employees and that they will be considering a variety of other moves to address sexual harassment within the park.
“They include personnel actions. They include organizational realignments. They include changes in policies and procedures,” Wenk said. “We will be taking action.”
Wenk said no disciplinary action has taken place yet, and that how much the park will be able to reveal about those actions when they take place will likely be limited by federal privacy laws, but that something will happen.
Yellowstone plans to respond to the investigation this year. Wenk said they’ve increased training for employees to ensure they know what their responsibilities are and where they can go to report misconduct. He also said they are going to bring in an outside consultant to look at the different work units and divisions within the park to better understand the breadth of the problems.
“While the report said the problems are not systemic throughout Yellowstone National Park,” Wenk said, “I also know they’re not limited to one unit of Yellowstone National Park.”
Wenk said he read all of the interview transcripts that were part of the investigation, and that although the investigation found that some of the accusations were inaccurate, he feels the park has a problem. This week, they had an all-employee meeting about the issue.
“I told employees that we can’t change the culture of Yellowstone by edict. We have to have everybody’s help,” he said.
Indeed, as Wenk notes, Yellowstone isn’t the only national park impacted. Other allegations have been reported in Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore.