UPDATE: US Office of Personnel Management provides guidance late on 1/31/2017 on hiring freeze, saying that seasonal employees, such as at Acadia, are exempt, but other positions are not.
Amid reports of the Trump administration clamping down on federal climate change efforts and the National Park Service Twitter account, Acadia National Park says its climate change exhibit and social media haven’t been affected – yet.
“Nothing’s changed as of now,” said John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia, in an interview late last week, adding that it’s still early. “We’re under a new administration. We’re working for a new boss.” The Acadia climate change exhibit officially opened at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center as part of Centennial festivities last year, with the ribbon cutting ceremony on Park Science Day on June 25.
But the park can’t fill vacant positions, such as the environmental compliance officer and visual information specialist jobs that recently came open, and it’s unclear whether the up to 150 seasonal positions can be filled during a hiring freeze announced by President Donald J. Trump, according to Kelly.
“The word on seasonal employees has not been given yet,” said Kelly, although the park is continuing the process of identifying qualified candidates. “We’re not sure if some, all or none would be allowed.”
In the first week of the new administration, NPS’s Twitter account was temporarily shut down after retweeting a couple of items viewed as unfavorable – side-by-side photos of the crowd during President Trump’s inauguration and President Obama’s, and an article about the taking down of climate change information on the White House Web site. And the Environmental Protection Agency was told not to post any social media or grant any new contracts or awards, according to reports in the Washington Post and elsewhere.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters last Tuesday that “I don’t think it’s any surprise that when there’s an administration turnover that we’re going to review the policies.”
But resistance to the Trump administration is building, with supporters of Acadia and other national parks and environmentalists setting up alternative social media sites to get out climate change facts, downloading or forwarding climate change reports, and planning a March for Science in March, and a People’s Climate March on April 29, both to be held in Washington, DC.
Perhaps the piece de resistance is by Mount Desert Island Marathon director Gary Allen, who for his 60th birthday got together with some friends and carved “RESIST” in Sand Beach at low tide. The photos have gone viral on the Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page, and stories have been written about them on the Web sites for CNN and Boston Magazine, among other places.
The Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page isn’t affiliated with the park, but with an independent sister Facebook page, Alt National Park Service, established by a growing coalition of National Park Service employees from around the country, according to info on the Facebook pages. “We are concerned citizens who were looking for a way to assist by helping to share the type of climate change and other information that the Trump administration has been trying to suppress. We are not affiliated with the park, and only affiliated with the AltNPS as an independent sister site,” the administrator for the Alt Acadia National Park Facebook page told us in a message.