“For the first 100 years of the National Park Service’s existence, there has almost continually been an official director who leads the prestigious conservation agency. Now, that’s changed.
The Trump administration has never had anyone in the official position of director — which comes with authority, direction, and influence over the Park Service.
Instead, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil industry lobbyist who helped weaken foundational environmental laws in the U.S., has maneuvered to have temporary or quasi-acting directors fill the post, even though federal law requires the president to nominate a director, who is then confirmed by the Senate.
Former Park Service leaders and legal experts agree that without a bonafide director, the Trump administration, specifically under Secretary Bernhardt, controls the National Park Service.
“They don’t want a strong Park Service, they want a weak Park Service,” said Peter Jenkins, a senior counsel at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an organization that probes improper or illegal government actions.”