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Nine members of the national park system advisory board quit in letter

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -

After nine of the 12 members of the National Park Advisory Board announced their resignation in a letter Tuesday, A U.S. Interior Department official criticized their decision.
  
Associate Deputy Secretary Todd Willens said Wednesday that members of the National Park System Advisory Board ignored sexual harassment at national parks and praised a former parks official who had been criticized for ethics and management failures.
  
Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles chaired the congressionally authorized board until Monday. The Democrat and eight others on the 12-member board sent a resignation letter, saying their requests to meet as prescribed in law have been disregarded.

The board usually meets with the secretary of interior bi-annually. In their letter, the board members said they hadn't met with current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at all over the past year.
  
Willens says it's "patently false" to say the department hasn't engaged with the board. He says the terms of two members had expired and their resignations are a "hollow and dishonest political stunt."

Eight of the nine members who signed their name to the letter had terms that were set to expire in May.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)
  

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