It’s National Park Week — a time when the nation’s parks open their gates — for free — and tell the story of how America’s public lands were created and are managed.
And this Saturday, thousands of scientists and environmental advocates from around the world will descend on Washington for the “March for Science,” described by organizers as a recognition of “the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.”
In this video, correspondent Ian Mason pinpoints a person who epitomizes both of these events — Brian Ettling, a park ranger in Crater Lake, Oregon, whose new boss is President Donald J. Trump.
As a private citizen, Ettling works to educate Congress about climate change, including bringing Republicans and Democrats to the table to work out consensus solutions to controversial issues such as climate change, global warming and energy use.
As a public servant, Ettling is familiar with the changes that take place in environmental policy when a new president takes charge.
In 2008, when President Obama was elected, “we got a change of administration and they wanted us to talk about climate change,” Ettling noted. “The politics — it was very, very thorny.”
The pendulum has swung again with Trump, who questioned park service photos showing smaller crowds at his inaugural, and who has also signed several orders rescinding Obama-administration policies, from climate change and clean air to pesticides and the Keystone Pipeline.
“Literally, the Park Service came out of the Army. And so we have to be good soldiers at the end of the day,” Ettling said.
“If they tell us not to talk about climate change, we do have to abide by those orders.”
Mason’s video is part of our “45for45” series of millennial messages for America’s 45th president. Click here for the series.
—Mason is a student meteorologist at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri. He plans to attend the University of Nebraska next year, where he will study meteorology.
National Park Week is April 15-23. For more information on National Park Week, watch this video or click here.