An internal report found 'credible evidence' of sexual harassment at Yellowstone

Following a six-month investigation, the Interior Department has determined there's "credible evidence" to suggest a rampant sexual harassment problem at Yellowstone National Park.

According to the Washington Post, the department's report detailed the harassment allegations of six female employees who claim the male employees in the park's maintenance division routinely make inappropriate comments toward them, amounting to verbal abuse and unequal treatment.

One woman alleged one of the men had stolen pairs of her underwear from a dresser drawer, while another called the park a "man's world."

After hearing these and other women's stories, the Interior Department's report concluded that Yellowstone's male maintenance staff had "created a work environment that included unwelcome and inappropriate comments and actions toward women."

The report is only the latest in mounting evidence that several national parks have fostered a toxic environment for women.

In September, 18 Yosemite National Park employees filed complaints of sexual harassment, bullying and assault in the workplace. The park's chief of Fire and Aviation Management, Kelly Martin, recalled multiple incidents of harassment, including repeated instances of a colleague spying on her through a bathroom window.

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: A National Park Service sign welcomes visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - SEPTEMBER 25, 2014: A lodgepole pine leans toward the water on the bank of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - SEPTEMBER 25, 2014: Belgian Pool is one of numerous geothermal hot springs in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Originally known as Oyster Spring, it was renamed in 1929 after a tourist from Belgium fell into the hot water and later died. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: A female moose (cow) stands in a forest clearing in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. According to the National Park Service, there are fewer than 200 moose (Alces alces shirasi) in the park. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY - SEPTEMBER 24, 2014: A bison grazes on grasses in the Hayden Valley section of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
KEDIRI, EAST JAVA, INDONESIA - 2014/03/02: Nature's new landscape, created by the eruption of Mount Kelud, barren wastes and new ravines etched into the terrain by flowing lava. Four people were killed, dozens injured and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from villages on the Indonesian island of Java, after Mount Kelud erupted on February 13, 2014, spewing ash and lava 17 km into the sky. Volcanic dust and sand spread to almost all regions in Java forcing the closure of three international airports in the region. The most dangerous consequence of Mount Keluds eruption will come with the flow of volcanic lava dust turned to mud that will flow when it starts to rain. Kelud is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is categorized as one of the worlds deadliest in the book Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park written by Greg Breining. In the last 1,000 years it has erupted 30 times. The most severe eruption occurred in 1586 which killed between ten and fifteen thousand people. An eruption in 1901 caused lava to flow up to 23 miles from the volcano and swept away hundreds of villages and killed 5,160 people. Another eruption in 1966 killed about 2,000 people. (Photo by Arief Priyono/LightRocket via Getty Images)
EAST JAVA, INDONESIA - 2014/02/19: Some residents watched the flood of volcanic ash and lava in the Konto River, in Kandangan, Kediri. Four people were killed, dozens injured and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from villages on the Indonesian island of Java, after Mount Kelud erupted on February 13, 2014, spewing ash and lava 17 km into the sky. Volcanic dust and sand spread to almost all regions in Java forcing the closure of three international airports in the region. The most dangerous consequence of Keluds eruption will come with the flow of volcanic lava dust turned to mud that will flow when it starts to rain. Kelud is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is categorized as one of the worlds deadliest in the book Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park written by Greg Breining. In the last 1,000 years it has erupted 30 times. The most severe eruption occurred in 1586 which killed between ten and fifteen thousand people. An eruption in 1901 caused lava to flow up to 23 miles from the volcano and swept away hundreds of villages and killed 5,160 people. Another eruption in 1966 killed about 2,000 people. (Photo by Arief Priyono/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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At a House Oversight Committee hearing, Martin said when she tried to complain about the harassment, her supervisors responded by minimizing her experience and "attempting to resolve the situation with a mere apology from the perpetrator instead of imposing more appropriate disciplinary action."

As a result, she said, many women at Yosemite have given up on reporting their harassers.

Meanwhile, female employees at the Grand Canyon have reported male Park Service employees for demanding sex from them and retaliating against those who refused their advances.

According to the Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has issued a directive for "harassment prevention training" for supervisors and managers within the department. This is the department's "latest attempt" to begin tackling the parks' sexist and abusive culture.

"It is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that our interactions with each other, contractors who support our mission, and the public are free of harassment, discrimination or retaliation," Zinke said. "Bullying, degrading and intimidating behavior is not acceptable and serves to dishonor the mission and values of our department."

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