P. Daniel Smith, a former high-ranking National Park Service official who improperly helped Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder broker a deal to cut down more than 130 trees between his Potomac estate and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, has been picked by the Trump administration to serve as the deputy director at the Department of the Interior, the National Parks Traveler reports.
Smith in 2004 pressured lower-level officials to push along a deal to clear 50,000 square feet of mature trees and replace them with saplings on Snyder’s property. In doing so, he disregarded federal environmental laws, harmed the C&O Canal National Historical Park and left the agency vulnerable to charges of favoritism, according to a 2006 report by the Inspector General's office.
The decision, said the report, should have been left to park biologists and horticulturists.
Smith is expected to replace acting director Mike Reynolds, whose 300-day term has expired.
Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told the National Parks Traveler he was disappointed with the announcement, which was circulated in an internal email last week.
"It is disturbing but perhaps indicative that the Trump people would resurrect a political hatchet man to take the helm at the National Park Service. In the Snyder-gate affair, Smith demonstrated a complete lack of respect for protecting park resources or for following established safeguards," Mr. Ruch said in an email Thursday. "It is also noteworthy that the IG investigators found Smith to be untruthful and that his mendacity prolonged the investigation at taxpayer expense – showing a troubling comfort level with alternative facts."
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