August 24, 2020
Ms. Margaret Everson
Counselor to the Secretary, Exercising the Delegated Authority of the Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Acting Director Everson:
I am writing to you on behalf of over 1,800 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), a non-profit organization composed of retired, former and current employees of the National Park Service (NPS). The Coalition studies, speaks, and acts for the preservation of America’s National Park System. As a group, we collectively represent over 40,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural, cultural, and historic resources.
We are writing again to express our concerns regarding the proper care and management of the historic resources at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. It is our understanding that the National Park Service has issued a First Amendment permit to the Maryland Republican Party for hosting the Vice President’s acceptance speech on August 26, 2020.
As stated previously in our August 17, 2020 letter, we have concerns about the validity of this being a First Amendment event where fees for cost recovery, bonding, and insurance for damages to resources have been waived. The event is also being held outside of the park’s designated First Amendment areas. As you are aware, the reason for designated event areas is to prevent damage to sensitive historic resources. We understand the masonry walkway within the Fort has been damaged by the heavy equipment being used for set-up.
We are questioning the National Park Service’s ability to properly monitor this permit for the protection of the public’s resources due to the nature of a political event. Stewardship of these resources is non-partisan and should be managed professionally which is the hallmark of the National Park Service’s mission under the 1916 Organic Act.
We hope that you will investigate this damage and update current policies and procedures as recommended in our previous letter so that natural and historic resources are not compromised during future permitted events.
Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
cc: David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior
Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Shawn Benge, Acting Deputy Director for Operations, National Park Service
Gay Vietzke, Region 1 Regional Director, National Park Service
Congressman Raul Grijalva, Chair, House Committee on Natural Resources
Congressman Rob Bishop, Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Senator Joe Manchin, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources