NEWS BRIEF The superintendent of Yosemite National Park has stepped down amid reports of rampant sexual harassment and bullying of female employees.
Don Neubacher has led the California destination for the last six years, and was previously lauded for his efforts to protect and restore major sections of the park. This latest scandal, though, is likely to tarnish his legacy.
In a statement Thursday, Neubacher said:
I regret leaving at this time, but want to do what’s best for Yosemite National Park. It is an iconic area that is world renowned and deserves special attention.
The House Oversight Committee last week held a hearing to address recent allegations of sexual harassment at some of the country’s most popular national parks, including Yosemite. As ABC News reports:
At Yosemite, at least 18 employees have come forward with allegations of harassment or other misconduct so severe that a recent report labeled working conditions at the park “toxic.”
At Yellowstone, officials are investigating complaints of sexual exploitation, intimidation and retaliation.
The complaints follow a report by the Interior Department's inspector general that found male employees at the Grand Canyon preyed on female colleagues, demanded sex and retaliated against women who refused.
At the hearing, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, said Yosemite’s hostile work environment was “a result of the behavior and conduct of the park’s superintendent,” Neubacher.
Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, said many of these persistent issues were presented to Congress 16 years ago and hostile working environment of national parks has yet to change.