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Yosemite official resigns amid mismanagement allegations

By Doug G. Ware
The light of the full moon mixes with the spray from Yosemite Falls to throw a beautiful lunar rainbow in Yosemite National Park. Wednesday, the park's superintendent, Don Neubacher, announced his abrupt resignation amid claims from some park employees who said Neubacher presided over a culture of gender bias and harassment -- a matter that attracted the attention of congressional investigators and the U.S. Department of the Interior. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/cba612585bd79aa32251b87984f6a299/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The light of the full moon mixes with the spray from Yosemite Falls to throw a beautiful lunar rainbow in Yosemite National Park. Wednesday, the park's superintendent, Don Neubacher, announced his abrupt resignation amid claims from some park employees who said Neubacher presided over a culture of gender bias and harassment -- a matter that attracted the attention of congressional investigators and the U.S. Department of the Interior. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The superintendent at Northern California's Yosemite National Park has announced his abrupt retirement, amid accusations that he presided over a culture of gender bias, office politics and sexual harassment at the iconic park.

Don Neubacher informed staff of his resignation and retirement in an email late Wednesday.

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"I was offered a [post] in Denver as a senior adviser ... [but] since my home is in California, I have opted to retire effective Nov. 1," he wrote.

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Although he won't depart until Nov. 1, Neubacher is leaving the job effective immediately because he's chosen to take leave in the meantime.

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Neubacher, 63, said after meeting with a superior that "it was determined that new leadership was needed at Yosemite National Park."

A 37-year veteran in the National Park Service, Neubacher has served in posts at San Francisco's Presidio, Point Reyes National Seashore and Glacier Bay National Park before he became Yosemite's superintendent in 2010.

The U.S. Interior Department has been investigating claims of misconduct and mismanagement at Yosemite following multiple complaints from employees at the park about an unpleasant work environment.

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"The investigation is ongoing and there are not yet any findings or conclusions relating to the allegations," NPS spokesman Andrew Muñoz said.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard testimony this week about Neubacher's leadership -- including that of employee Kelly Martin, who claimed she witnessed numerous instances of favoritism, bullying and gender bias in her 10 years at the park.

As Congress heard testimony, Neubacher wrote a message of apology to his employees.

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"It was never my intention, in any way, to offend any employee over the course of the six and a half years I have been superintendent," he wrote in the email. "If I did offend any of you at any time, I want to sincerely apologize."

It wasn't immediately clear who will succeed Neubacher at Yosemite.

"I regret leaving at this time, but want to do what's best for Yosemite National Park," Neubacher said. "It is an iconic area that is world renowned and deserves special attention."

"The National Park Service is taking a comprehensive approach to address and prevent sexual harassment and hostile work environments," Munoz added.

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