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Patience wearing thin as National Parks remain closed and park rangers bully visitors

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National Parks Service ranger Daniel Martinez puts up a "closed" sign at the entrance of a monument in California.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – In my recent review of Missing 411, David Paulides’ unsettling account of missing people from National Parks in the United States over the past century, a key issue that stands out amidst the haunting reports of children and adults simply vanishing in our treasured public wilderness is the seeming disinterest and/or outright hostility the National Parks Service has towards forthright investigators like Paulides.

As I wrote in my review for Red Dirt Report, Paulides says he is “concerned” about the attitude the NPS has about missing people. The NPS doesn’t even have a national database identifying missing people.

The perceptive Paulides notes: “It's hard to imagine that a giant government law enforcement agency such as the National Parks Service (NPS) doesn't monitor and track these basic statistics. This is beyond inept; it borders on complete stupidity, unless this is a calculated maneuver.”

A calculated maneuver? Yes, in light of current events within the NPS, since the “government shutdown,” a calculated maneuver is clearly afoot. One doesn’t have to be a partisan hack to realize that the NPS bureaucracy, using the park rangers as its muscle, is trying to make a visit to Mt. Rushmore, Old Faithful or any national park a most unpleasant experience.

And why wouldn’t they offer as much information about a missing person to a researcher who might be able to crack a cold case? Well, that’s the nature of a bureaucracy. It’s not the bearded guy in the Smokey Bear hat who is typically giving you a hard time, it’s some government hack in Denver or D.C. who, as one ranger said: “(M)ake life as difficult for people as we can.”

Of course conservative bloggers and pundits are highlighting the insults delivered World War II vets at the World War II Memorial at the National Mall, foreign tourists being bullied in Yosemite or even going so far to close off historic sites that aren’t even under the purview of the NPS. They simply do it because they can. Making life difficult is an Obama White House mantra, it would seem.

In an editorial in the neoconservative Weekly Standard, writer Jonathan V. Last suggests that the bullying and abusive behavior of the National Parks Service over the past week “might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration.”

And with scandals ranging from the IRS, Benghazi, “Fast and Furious” and an expanding, domestic spy network, that is quite a claim on Last’s part.

But he makes some salient points, saying that people like Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis are nothing more that thuggish know-nothings who have the “disinterested contempt of a meter maid with the zeal of an ambitious party apparatchik.” And that “leaders” like Jarvis serve the party that put them in power, not the citizens and visitors who want to admire and experience our national treasures. Why else would a “pro-immigrant” rally take place on the National Mall when World War II veterans are essentially told to get lost or be arrested?

Things have gotten so surreal that some gate-crashing Americans are defying the national park closures and daring the park goons to arrest them.

And you may have heard the shocking story of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Cathy Frye and her photographer husband Rick McFarland being kicked out of Big Bend National Park in Texas and told to go to the more rugged and remote Big Bend Ranch State Park, which was adjacent to the national park.

Frye nearly died after she and her husband got hopelessly lost in the less-patrolled state park. Likely wouldn't have happened if Obama and the Democrats hadn't decided to play politics with our parks.

Cones and “barry-cades” are being placed at parks from coast to coast and people are being fined and arrested for not bowing down to the authority of the federal government.

And where is President Obama? He’s certainly not out promoting the beauty of America’s wild lands. He’s got more important and self-serving things to do. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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