Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan Tuesday responded to a recent article and editorial in the Harrisburg Patriot-News about the resignation of John Norbeck as Director of the Bureau of State Parks--
As The Patriot-News knows well, good employment policy and practice – not to mention decorum – dictates that employers do not publicly discuss personnel matters.
Not surprisingly, employees who are separated from their jobs may concoct stories as to the circumstances surrounding their separation. That is not entirely unexpected. However, what your readers do not deserve are baseless editorials such as The Patriot-News’ “Preserve our parks: Do recent DCNR ousters spell trouble?” which perpetuate and give credence to these false allegations.
Employers cannot be held hostage to the self-serving statements of a separated employee. However, an employer is powerless to defend itself publicly lest they subject themselves to employment law infractions and liability. The media knows this all too well, and yet some in the media, desperate for a story, create this catch-22 for the employer.
Mr. Norbeck knows why he no longer works for the state, and he knows it has absolutely nothing to do with philosophical differences over mineral extraction. For the record, we have not and are not considering any drilling on state park land. The moratorium on future leasing remains in effect.
Under Gov. Corbett’s leadership, DCNR has overseen the drilling activity authorized by Gov. Rendell on state forest lands to ensure that it does not harm the fabric and character of these natural resource treasures. And we are not engaging in, nor will we engage in, commercial timbering and strip mining activities on our state parks.
Gov. Corbett has appointed and retained smart, dedicated, and professional employees to oversee the state’s parks and forests. He recognizes the tremendous significance of the commonwealth’s natural resources, with a state park and state forest system that rivals that of any other state.
The natural gas impact fee signed by Gov. Corbett in February sets aside money for state park and forest infrastructure improvements – the first infusion of new money into our park and forest system since 2005.
Under the Governor’s leadership, DCNR will continue to ensure that its stewardship of our public lands meets the high expectations of our citizens. They deserve, and will receive, nothing less.