Yosemite Chief Retiring Amid Complaints of Hostile Workplace | NBC 6 South Florida
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Yosemite Chief Retiring Amid Complaints of Hostile Workplace

The House Oversight Committee chairman had been concerned about a "corrosive culture" in the National Park Service

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP, File
    A view on the way to Glacier Point trail in the Yosemite National Park, California

    The head of Yosemite National Park is retiring following employee complaints that he created a hostile workplace by allowing bullying, harassment and other misconduct, allegations also raised in other popular national parks, officials said Thursday.

    Superintendent Don Neubacher announced his plans Wednesday, said Andrew Munoz, a spokesman for the National Park Service. It comes less than a week after a congressional oversight committee unveiled that at least 18 Yosemite staffers complained of a toxic work environment.

    The employees described "horrific working conditions (that) lead us to believe that the environment is indeed toxic, hostile, repressive and harassing," the park service said in a preliminary report last month.

    The congressional hearing also showed wider allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct among employees at national parks including Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

    Dangerous Flash Floods, Landslides Wipe Through Peru

    [NATL] Dangerous Flash Floods, Landslides Wipe Through Peru

    El Nino rains that followed a terrible drought in Peru led to mudslides, flooding and overflowing rivers. The floods have displaced more than 100,000 people and have killed scores across the country. Meteorologists worry that it could get worse, as more rain is expected through April.

    (Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017)

    Neubacher, who headed Yosemite for nearly seven years, was not immediately available for comment, but his emailed statement to park staffers was provided to The Associated Press.

    "I regret leaving at this time, but want to do what's best for Yosemite National Park," he said in Wednesday's message. "It is an iconic areas that is world renowned and deserves special attention."

    Neubacher did not mention the allegations but listed several accomplishments the park made in recent years under his leadership, including adding 400 acres and restoring the native Western Pond turtles.

    His retirement is effective Nov. 1 and he will be on leave immediately, he said in the statement.

    At the congressional hearing, Kelly Martin, Yosemite's fire chief, testified that Neubacher publicly humiliated her and intimidated staffers in front of others.

    "In Yosemite National Park today, dozens of people, the majority of whom are women, are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized," according to Martin's written testimony.

    Neubacher sent an apology email to all park employees days after the hearing, referencing "some serious staff concerns related to Yosemite's workplace environment."

    U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said in an AP interview Wednesday, prior to Neubacher's retirement announcement, that he was concerned about a "corrosive culture" that tolerates sexual harassment within the National Park Service and has been allowed to persist for too long.

    Girl Saved During Hurricane Katrina Reunites With Rescuer

    [NATL] Girl Saved During Hurricane Katrina Reunites With Rescuer

    During Hurricane Katrina, Master Sergeant Michael Maroney was a pararescue jumper, flying over New Orleans picking up survivors in the devastating aftermath of the 2005 disaster, when he saw a little girl -- LaShay Brown -- below. 

    Brown was stranded without food or water when Maroney found her. On Saturday at her Junior ROTC Ball in Waveland, Mississippi, she reuinted with her rescuer.

    (Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017)

    The Utah Republican predicted that the number of parks with sexual harassment scandals will grow as victims become more confident that they can speak up and be heard.