Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Sexual Harassment Within the National Park Service

Sep 26, 2016

A congressional committee recently examined the National Park Service’s response to agency-wide allegations of employee sexual harassment. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, lawmakers heard testimony from staff about a deeply imbedded culture of abuse and retaliation.

The Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park
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The hearing follows a federal report earlier this year that found a history of abuse and retaliation within Grand Canyon National Park’s now-disbanded River District. That led to investigations at other national parks, including Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Park Service employees told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that misconduct continues and is often covered up by managers. They say it’s led to a widespread acceptance of harassment and created hostile work environments throughout the agency. In addition, respondents felt few, if any, employees have ever been fired for harassment.

Since the investigation, the Park Service has set up a hotline to report harassment and is surveying its employees to gauge the level of abuse. The new superintendent of Grand Canyon, Christine Lehnertz, also says changing the harassment culture at the park is one of her top priorities.