Ranger Robert Danno Reaches Settlement With National Park Service, Takes New Career Path

Almost a decade after a ranger who couldn't believe a billionaire had been given the OK to cut down trees in a scenic easement along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park landed in administrative purgatory, his case has been settled.

Robert Danno had steadily climbed the National Park Service ranks and was chief ranger at the historical park when he blew the whistle on superiors for allowing Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to have roughly 2 acres of his land overlooking the Potomac River and the park cleared.

Instead of his concerns being upheld, however, Mr. Danno was busted from his chief ranger's position and, at one point, assigned to approving picnicking permits and, at another, given an office with virtually no tasks.

Mr. Danno recounted the matter, and his appeal of his demotion, in a self-published book, Worth Fighting For, A Park Ranger's Unexpected Battle Against Federal Bureaucrats And Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder.

On Friday, word came that he had reached an undisclosed settlement with the Park Service and had moved from Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, where he managed the battlefield's boundaries, to Montana to work at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center.

"I love the national parks, the National Park System and the people who serve them, especially rangers," Mr. Danno wrote in an email to the Traveler. "I hope the National Park Service uses my experience as an opportunity to improve leadership. I sincerely hope that my story becomes a catalyst for change and we regain the proud tradition of employee and agency excellence."

Comments

I am delighted to see that Mr. Danno has reached a settlement with the NPS after the simply outrageous conduct he was subject to (see his book "Worth Fighting For"). Congrats to Mr. Danno and his comment that he hopes, after all of the stall and delay of 10 years, that the NPS will review its management policies and make this type of "employee terrorism a thing of the past". My words, not his. I only hope that Billy Malone will also see a conclusion to the inexcusable behavior directed towards him at Hubbells Trading Post. It is simply wrong that these incidents take so long to resolve. Thank you also Mr. Paul Berkowitz for conducting what a criminal investigation should be in "The Case of the Indian trader", this also a book worth reading.

Where are the consequences for those those who did this? I know that most of them have been promoted and one is even the Superintendent at Colonial.

This case is a real lesson that it never pays to buck the system in the NPS the way to go is to get the information out without your name attached. The book “The Art of Anonymous Activism: Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service” is a great guide in how to do that. Other wise the agency will make you the issue instead of having the conversation being about the wrong doing.

My theory on why we have these situations is that there are a lot of incompetent people in NPS leadership positions. Deep down they know they have been put in a position they shouldn’t be in. This makes them very defensive and insecure causing them to lash out at anyone they sense is not obsequious enough.

Perpetual Season,

Wow, did you hit the nail on the head. What happened was that those people got promoted and moved throughout the system where they can perpetuate that kind of abuse among others, which they have done. We got stuck with one of them in the Smokies who is a familiar name in that pile, Kevin Fitzgerald. And he was a real piece of work before retiring last year. (Of course the NPS solution is to bring in the wife of the guy that oversees the Southeast region, incest at its best) The NPS has a cultural problem at the higher end. Retribution and fear are mainstays, it would appear.

Perpetual Seasonal, I find myself mostly in agreement with your post. I believe Ranger Robert Danno (and his family), were treated with the utmost disrespect, again I think its outstanding he has been exonerated. But I think its important to note how he conducted himself and how, now that he has been cleared of the malicious charges against him, he is taking seriously a very responsible new position at a noted facility and will continue to strive for the highest standards of public service. I also agree with Smokies Backpacker that it is unfortunate that those that practiced this malfeasance against Mr. Danno, were not reprimanded or otherwise effectively dealt with. That said, I must still defend the agency as a whole, as my own experience allowed me to work with many more Robert Danno types than those that participated in this debacle.

Well said, Mr Mackie. Fix things, but don't damn thousands for the malfeasance of a few.

Take a look just about anytime at the Military Times magazines, or Stars & Stripes. Many an officer - field grade, warrant, general - has been relieved for Tailhook-style acts, or for fraud, or simply 'those on his ship have lost their confidence in his ability to command." It is possible to effect positive change in a military or para-military organization at any level of responsibility.

This is one area the NPS could do a better job at.