Another issue Sams inherits is reports of harassment and discrimination within the service’s rank and file. A 2017 survey revealed 40% of park service staff reported experiencing harassment during the past year, according to High Country News. The service commissioned a follow-up report to investigate the issue further, called “NPS Voices Report.” But in a November letter to Sams, a group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility accused the park service of burying the report and encouraged Sams to take action and remove toxic employees from the service.
Sams said the park service has been doing work in the past three years to address the issues raised in the report, but he promised to do more.
“I want to be very clear: I hear what the field is saying,” he said. “I’m looking forward to going out in the field this next year. The National Park Service staff are working hard to set up a number of opportunities for me to get to both large and small parks so that I can hear directly from the staff, and the rangers themselves, about what’s going on and see what we can do to strengthen that. Morale is an extremely important issue.”