Dear Coalition Members,
We know your inbox has been flooded with emails related to the coronavirus. It may seem like every business or organization you have interacted with has reached out with information on how they’re handling the pandemic. And while this may feel like just another coronavirus email, we want to provide you with an update on our actions.
The Coalition believes that we need to ensure the health and safety of all Americans. This belief has informed every action we’ve taken and statement we’ve issued in the past few weeks. We will always be ardent defenders of our natural and cultural resources, but there is nothing more important than making sure our federal employees and visitors are healthy and safe.
Our national park system is being mismanaged. We are in the middle of a crisis and there is a clear void of leadership. We are trying to fill that void by demanding that NPS employees be allowed to adhere to the best practices issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We demanded that the NPS close all facilities that require employees and/or members of the public to be in close proximity and in confined spaces. We pushed for NPS employees who are deemed non-essential to practice social distancing and stay home wherever possible.
We know this is being done in some parks. But while gathering at restaurants, theaters, libraries, and other public spaces is no longer considered safe, the Secretary of the Interior has waived entrance fees at national parks and encouraged visitation. Now, there is inevitable overcrowding occurring at park units throughout the system as people pour into our national parks. It is not safe for people and it will ultimately put our resources at risk.
Calling for a nationwide closure of national park sites is unusual. We also recognize the tremendous disruption such an action will cause to NPS partners, concessioners and the public. But these are unprecedented times that call for unprecedented measures.
Decisions made about the health and safety of our federal workforce should not be political. They should be made in the best interest of the health and well-being of our nation, particularly the most vulnerable. We must take care of our federal employees and their families.
We promise to continue to advocate for the health and safety of our NPS employees and visitors. We will continue to work hard to protect our parks.
Chair, Executive Council