What You Missed: Chuck Sams Confirmed as National Park Service Director
Congress approves Sams as NPS director, Canadian cops raid indigenous protest, and Steamboat locals pray for snow
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On Thursday the Senate unanimously voted to confirm Charles “Chuck” Sams III to serve as director of the National Park Service. The decision makes Sams the first Native American to lead the NPS in its 105-year history.
Sams is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a member of the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. After the vote, Oregon senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, praised Sams in a public statement.
“Chuck Sams is the right nominee to lead the National Park Service as it addresses these challenges. I know Chuck. He is hardworking. He is committed,” Wyden said. “Chuck is a role model in the stewardship of American land and waters, wildlife and history. And now thanks to the Senate’s unanimous decision to confirm his nomination, Congress and park-goers will have someone steady and experienced to rely on in the years ahead.”
Sams faces a long list of challenges in the role, from a surge in public visits to the agency’s yearslong struggle with harassment and abuse. In August, Outside contributor Wes Siler wrote about the hurdles Sams would confront were he to take over the agency. Siler also interviewed former NPS director Jon Jarvis for perspective.
The NPS has been without a director for more than four years, leading to organizational chaos during the Trump administration. But Jarvis believes Sams now has an opportunity to reinvent it.
“There’s money for the maintenance backlog, there’s a sympathetic administration, and there’s public interest,” Jarvis said. “The Park Service will be vital to achieving Biden’s climate change and infrastructure goals, too.”
Canadian Police Arrest Protestors Supporting Indigenous Resistance to Pipeline
Yesterday Canadian police in northern British Columbia mounted a raid on protestors blocking access to a construction site of a multibillion-dollar natural-gas pipeline. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it arrested 14 protestors manning a barricade along a service road to the Coastal GasLink pipeline just outside Houston a town some 600 miles north of Vancouver. According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the barricade was erected by members of the local Wet’suwet’en and Haudenosaunee Nations.
The RCMP said protestors were violating a court-ordered injunction from 2019 barring any obstruction to the road.
But chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en say they have not granted permission for the pipeline to cross their territory. The pipeline is supposed to travel under the Wedzin Kaw River—a primary source of water for the tribe—and a camp of protestors is still occupying one drill site near the river.
“Drilling under the headwaters would be disastrous for our drinking water. We currently drink right out of the river,” said one protestor, Molly Wickham. “Protecting the river is critical to our livelihood.”
Acts of civil disobedience against extraction industries have succeeded in British Columbia. In September, the province’s supreme court ordered police to stand down from the Fairy Creek blockade, a 14-month protest against a logging operation on southwestern Vancouver Island.
Let It Snow
Looks like locals in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, are trying to will Mother Nature to break the snow drought.
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