Former National Park director on Zinke’s departure: We ‘breathed a collective sigh of relief’

Former National Park Service (NPS) director Jonathan Jarvis said those who care deeply about the national parks and America’s public lands “breathed a collective sigh of relief” when they heard Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election Zinke cleared of violating federal rules tied to Pennsylvania special election Overnight Energy: Trump unveils 2020 budget | Plan slashes funds for EPA, Interior and Energy | Interior request highlights border security MORE would be stepping down.

Zinke is leaving the administration amid a bevy of ethics investigations. President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE announced his departure on Saturday.

Jarvis, who served as NPS director for almost the entirety of former President Obama’s tenure, blasted Zinke’s leadership and stewardship of public lands in an op-ed published in The Guardian on Sunday.

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“While we were hopeful that Zinke would be one of the good ones, we were soon disappointed, then appalled,” Jarvis wrote. “His doors were soon darkened by profiteers, big game hunters, oil executives, and climate deniers. Under Zinke’s flag, national monuments were carved up and reopened for development.”

Zinke’s time at the helm of the Interior Department was plagued by more than a dozen investigations into his conduct, at least one of which has been referred to the Justice Department for potential prosecution of conflict of interest laws.

The former Montana congressman also left high-level offices unfilled, Jarvis complained.

“Two years after he took the reins, the positions of director of the National Park Service and head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service remain vacant, unprecedented in history, leaving the two agencies rudderless and adrift,” he wrote.

Jarvis also took aim at Zinke’s temporary replacement, deputy interior secretary David Bernhardt, calling him “the brains behind most of the unwinding of our national estate.”

During his time with the NPS, Jarvis served under 10 Interior secretaries, but noted that Zinke’s tenure will have lasting impact on America’s land.

“Millions of acres that were available for outdoor recreation will now be held by private companies for fossil fuel development,” he wrote. “The one thing that the Zinke administration cannot rewrite is history, and history will not be kind to his tenure.”