2016-09-29 / Front Page

Neubacher out as Yosemite superintendent

Comes on heels of whistleblower testimony before Congressional committee

Don NeubacherDon Neubacher

The superintendent of Yosemite National Park has retired after National Park Service officials were going to move him from his role as the head of the Park.

Don Neubacher, under fire from allegations of misconduct during a recent hearing before a Congressional committee, apparently made the announcement on Wednesday, according to Andrew S. Munoz, regional spokesman and Freedom of Information Act program manger for the park service.

"In order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment at Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service acted to move Don Neubacher from his role as superintendent of Yosemite National Park," said Munoz in an email to the Mariposa Gazette on Thursday afternoon.

Last week, Kelly Martin, the chief of fire and aviation management at the Park, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and had tough words for National Park Service leadership, including allegations of sexual and gender harassment.

It was announced during the hearing that at least 18 staff members from Yosemite complained of a toxic work environment at the Park.

The email said that on Thursday, Sept. 29, the park service accepted the resignation of Neubacher. Neubacher, it said, is retiring effective Nov. 1. He will be on leave until then, said Munoz.

In addition, he said Linda Mazzu will serve as the interim acting superintendent. She is the chief for Division of resource management and science at Yosemite.

On Oct. 17, Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks will begin work as the new superintendent at Yosemite.

Munoz said the investigation at Yosemite is "ongoing" and there are "not yet any findings or conclusions relating to the allegations.

According to the Associated Press, Neubacher sent an apology email to all park employees days after the Congressional hearing, referring to “some serious staff concerns related to Yosemite’s workplace environment.”

"The National Park Service is taking a comprehensive approach to address and prevent sexual harassment and hostile work environments," wrote Munoz in the email. "That means promoting an inclusive and respectful culture that does not accept discrimination, harassment or retaliation."

Neubacher has been the superintendent at Yosemite National Park for about seven years.

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