As Shutdown Continues, National Park Service Director Tries to Boost Morale

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. | Photo: Courtesy NPS
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. | Photo: Courtesy NPS

It's been a tough time for many of the national park service employees furloughed in the government shutdown since October 1. From a Congressman telling a ranger to be ashamed of herself to the feeling that protests at parks are about them, all that attention mixed with lots and lots and lots of media coverage can lead to some doubt.

To that end, it would appear, park service Director Jon Jarvis put out a memo Thursday with a personal touch. "I want you to know that you are missed," he wrote.

But the irony here is that furloughed employees -- some 20,000 of them -- are officially not allowed to check email. That's why the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is trying to spread the word.

"Anytime there's a crisis, communication is important, and there's been such a vacuum," said Joan Anzelmo, the group's spokesperson and who last served as the Superintendent of Colorado National Monument. "Employees are getting information just like you and I, but nothing is worse than having so many rumors flying around," seeing so many things untrue out in the media," she added.

Jarvis' letter in full, as shared by the Coalition, can be read below:

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October 10, 2013

To all NPS Employees:

It remains my hope that the Congress acts swiftly to reopen the Government. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a few updates and, most importantly, thank you for your ongoing commitment to public service and to the national parks.

For those who are on unplanned furlough, I want you to know that you are missed. I know many of you are spending time with your family, continuing to give back to your community through a variety of local volunteer efforts and taking care of household business. I am sure that all of you are frustrated and would like to return to work, and it is my hope that the shutdown will end soon so we can all return to doing the jobs we love.

For those of you who are at work keeping the parks and the public safe, I want to thank you for your service and professionalism in this challenging time. Because of the lapse in funding, you are having to deliver difficult news to our visitors and partners. The functions we must perform under a shutdown are not the reasons any of us joined the National Park Service, but they are the duties we are required to perform by law and regulation. In this time, we must remain focused on our mission - first and foremost - of guarding public safety and protecting the resources with which we are entrusted. I am proud of the service you are continuing to perform, from the search and rescue operation at Craters of the Moon to the Park Police's response to the tragic incident near the Capitol last week.

The National Park System is supported and loved by the American public not only because national parks are beautiful and historic, but because they are well managed, protected, interpreted and maintained by a professional workforce. With more than 20,000 workers on furlough during this lapse in appropriations, we must continue to devote our limited resources to the protection of life and property.

Without question, we all want to see the entire national parks and public lands system re-open to the public; we know the closures are having unfortunate impacts on countless families, businesses, and communities. Turning visitors away is simply not in our DNA.

As Ken Burns said, the National Park Service is an utterly democratic idea: for the first time in human history, land was set aside not for kings or the very rich, but for everybody. The National Park System strives to tell the story of all Americans, for all Americans. I know we all look forward to re-opening all 401 national parks so they may fulfill the purposes for which they were intended - to be enjoyed and loved by the American people.

Amid the difficulties that the ongoing shutdown poses on you and your families, I am deeply heartened by your continued commitment to public service and by the passion that the entire National Park Service family has for our mission, now approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016.

Please stay strong, safe, and continue to do your nation proud.

Jon Jarvis, Director
Jonathan B. Jarvis
Director, NPS

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