Trump's Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. Photo: Shawn Thew / Reuters

By Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin
6 December 2018

(The Washington Post) – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has resurrected a federally chartered board that advises the National Park Service with his own appointees, nearly a year after most of its former members resigned in frustration. [cf. Nearly all members of U.S. National Park Service advisory panel resign in frustration – “Our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda” –Des]

The newly reconstituted National Park System Advisory Board — composed largely of current or retired business executives — was set to meet for the first time Wednesday in Washington. The Interior Department postponed the session, however, because the federal government observed a national day of mourning out of respect for former president George H.W. Bush.

The new panel includes a California winemaker, a beer distributor in Texas and three veterans of the real estate and home-building industry. All of the 11 new members appear to be white, and nine of them are men. Public records show all of the new board members are either registered Republicans or have voted repeatedly in GOP primaries.

The current committee poses a stark contrast to the 12-member panel picked under President Barack Obama. Two-thirds of those members were women, and the group included African American members and members of Latino and Asian descent. […]

The appointments reflect the latest instance of Zinke reshaping the work — often in a more business-friendly direction — of the more than 200 advisory boards that help Interior manage the roughly 500 million acres of public land it oversees.

The newly appointed board also did not include any working academics, as the previous version did. Among the old panelists were professors from Harvard and Yale universities, as well as the University of Maryland and the University of Kentucky.

The new group includes three big-dollar donors who have each contributed more than $500,000 to GOP candidates and causes since the 2008 election cycle.

They are John C. Cushman III, a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate executive who gave $537,950, mostly to Republicans and GOP-affiliated political action committees; John L. Nau III, who runs the nation’s largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products and gave $847,022, largely to Republicans; and Boyd C. Smith, a Bay Area-based real estate developer who contributed $986,407, largely to GOP candidates.

Cushman’s firm, Cushman & Wakefield, also contributed to Zinke — who served as Montana’s lone House member before joining President Trump’s Cabinet — during the 2014 and 2016 cycles. […]

Nearly all of the board’s former members submitted letters of resignation in January after they concluded the Trump administration was ignoring their requests to meet twice a year as prescribed by law. [more]

Trump administration swaps academics for business executives on National Park Service advisory panel



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