National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis admitted during an online chat Tuesday that the NPS brand took "a couple of hits" from conservatives during the government shutdown.
"I think that we've taken a couple of hits, certainly in the conservative side of the political fence," Jarvis said, adding that conservatives believed that the Park Service was making things more painful after the government shutdown.
Jarvis categorically denied that anyone at the NPS was trying to make the shutdown more painful for the public.
"Those of you that were on the front lines, you know, denying the public's access, which is as we have said and will say over and over again, is not in our DNA, and we are not ashamed," Jarvis said, addressing the employees that "took a lot of heat" from the public during the shutdown.
In spite of the shutdown controversies, Jarvis said he believed that the general public actually appreciated what the NPS did.
"I think in general, what I heard from the general public is they like their national parks, they're proud of their national parks system, they appreciate the professionals in the organization," Jarvis said.
"In many ways we are the most visible component of the federal government that affects their lives and they like that," he said.
Jarvis added that during the shutdown, the National Parks Foundation was "monitoring the blogosphere" for how the NPS was perceived during the shutdown and that it was important to reach out.
Jarvis warned park employees that House Republicans had subpoenaed e-mails from NPS during the shutdown, which would be gathered and sent to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"You know they are looking for a smoking gun, and there isn't one," Jarvis said.
Jarvis cautioned his fellow employees to be careful when sending email.
"Keep in mind one thing about that is an email never goes away," Jarvis warned. "If you type in an email, it doesn't matter whether you delete it or not, it's been captured and it sits on the servers and they can now remotely search it and pull it up."
Jarvis added lightly that Congress was "just doing their job."
"They do it a little roughly sometimes, but they're just doing their job," he said.