Washington, DC--"Pursuant to a confidential Settlement Agreement mutually negotiated with the Park Service, Mr. Jackson will return to Yellowstone National Park as a Backcountry ranger in 2003 for his final season with the National Park Service."
Bob "Action" Jackson, Yellowstone's longest-serving backcountry ranger, is known for high profile poaching arrests and exposing the problem of salt-baiting for elk. In April the National Park Service informed Jackson that he would not be hired for the coming summer. According to a whistleblower complaint filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the decision not to rehire Jackson was in retaliation for his well-publicized criticisms of laxness in enforcing wilderness rules, particularly the practice by hunting outfitters of using salt to lure elk out of the park. The resulting large numbers of elk carcasses at salt baits attract grizzly bears looking for a pre-hibernation meal. This in turn causes an increase in bear-hunter interactions, often ending with bears being shot.
In 2001, PEER filed a similar whistleblower complaint on Jackson's behalf, after he was given an order not to speak publicly about Park Service issues. In response to that complaint, the Park Service rescinded the gag order, scheduled First Amendment training for its managers, deleted all derogatory information in Jackson's record and rehired him for the 2002 season.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently sent a letter to the Director of the National Park Service outlining a series of incidents toward Ranger Jackson by his supervisors. In the letter Grassley said that Ranger Jackson's thirty years of experience in and knowledge of the back-country and its problems make him an invaluable part of enforcement and protection at Yellowstone. In response to Jackson's return to Yellowstone, Grassley made the following statement:
"It's time Ranger Jackson got back to work for his final season at Yellowstone. He's been through the ringer for no apparent reason other than speaking the truth about problems. I'm glad the National Park Service finally came to its senses to retain its longest serving back-country ranger."
Last year Grassley investigated Park Service retaliation against Ranger Jackson after officials curtailed his work season so he could not patrol the backcountry area.