Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg traveled to Glacier National Park over the weekend to see the effects of climate change on glaciers there first hand, only to find that the Trump administration had removed the park's climate change experts ahead of his arrival.
Just days before his visit, the administration removed two of the park's top climate change experts from the group meant to give him a guided tour.
Interior Department press secretary Heather Swift told park staff that Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow was not to be involved in the tour, three people with knowledge of the decision told the Washington Post.
On top of that, the National Park Service's public affairs staff had been told not to post anything about Zuckerberg's visit on its Facebook or other social media accounts. That included sharing a post that Zuckerberg wrote during his visit that showed his shock at the rate at which the park's glaciers were shrinking because of higher average temperatures.
One National Park Service employee told the Post, "The fact that you would have been sharing Mark Zuckerberg's views with 93 million followers is going to give it that much more lift."
Mow took the decisions in stride, saying "the way I look at it is whenever you have a new administration, it takes a while for them to get settled. It's an issue of people learning their jobs. They're going to make mistakes along the way."
"It's growing pains and learning just how far you are going to get into the day-to-day operational issues at a park," he said.
Swift told the Post the decision was a prudent use of government resources.
"The park gets 3 million visitors a year, most of them coming in the summer months," Swift wrote. "July is peak season. A number of park rangers were made available for the celebrity's personal tour but allocating such extensive government resources to a celebrity would have been a waste of money and a disservice to average parkgoers."
The effort follows President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, in addition to reports that many agencies are repositioning staff who had once managed climate change programs.