Press Release Sep 30, 2020

Interior Must Resume Critically Needed Trainings to Keep Parks Safe

"This will have a chilling effect on staff who are facing discrimination, sexual harassment, and racial bias among other difficult situations."

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Washington Post reported on chaos and confusion at the National Park Service as a result of the agency’s response to an Executive Order from President Trump and a memo from the Office of Personnel Management, each seeking to bar the use of federal funds for workplace diversity trainings.

National Park Service staff told The Post that in the wake of the order, Park Service officials have indefinitely frozen critically needed staff trainings related to racial equity, bias, harassment, and more. Some of the trainings included in this freeze go well beyond the scope of trainings banned under the Executive Order, including Director’s Order 16E on harassment, and a training on how staffers can assist park visitors who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or have low vision. These trainings are designed to keep our national parks and public lands safe and equitable for staff and visitors. Suspending these trainings puts park staff at risk and makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

This Executive Order and its fallout will have serious impacts on the Park Service, particularly given the agency’s lack of staff diversity and past struggles to address sexual harassment in its ranks. The National Parks Conservation Association is calling on the Department of Interior to immediately restore all frozen trainings without delay.

Statement of Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association:

“This executive order is disturbing to say the least. Staff at the Department of Interior deserve access to trainings, resources, and funds to ensure our national parks and public lands are safe and equitable for all people. This year has been a pivotal one for racial justice and we support Interior conducting trainings to improve their skills when managing diverse staff and visitors. Enforcing this order banning trainings on race and equity is a step backward for the Department of Interior and its agencies.

"The Department of Interior’s decision in the wake of this order to freeze trainings on Equal Employment Opportunity, anti-harassment, tribal consultation, and more is shocking and deeply disappointing. This will have a chilling effect on staff who are facing discrimination, sexual harassment, and racial bias among other difficult situations. It will make it harder for staff at Interior to do their jobs. The fact that Interior has struggled to address sexual harassment in places like the Grand Canyon makes this decision all the more inexcusable. For the safety and well-being of the people who work at our national parks and the people who visit them, we urge Interior to resume all trainings on this list immediately.”

###

About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.