Patty Neubacher, the wife of deposed Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher, has announced her own abrupt retirement from a top park service job.
As deputy regional director of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, Patty Neubacher has had significant responsibilities covering 56 national parks in six states and across the Pacific islands.
But in an email sent to National Park Service staff on Sunday that hinted at some behind-the-scenes drama, Neubacher declared her intentions to retire effective Nov. 1
“This is not the timing that I'd ever envisioned for retiring, but sometimes life takes an abrupt turn,” Neubacher stated. “And, so it is for me.”
A park service employee for more than 33 years, Neubacher told her “fellow travelers” that her retirement decision was accompanied by “much sadness but with a heart full of gratitude,” and she thanked her colleagues for “your support, your patience, your kindness, your intelligence, and, perhaps most importantly, your good humor.”
Neubacher’s husband, Yosemite’s superintendent since 2010, last week abruptly announced his own retirement effective Nov. 1. In an email to staff, Don Neubacher explained that he was retiring rather than accept a transfer to Denver amid an Interior Department Office of Inspector General inquiry.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment at Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service acted to move Don Neubacher from his role as superintendent of Yosemite,” park service spokesman Andrew Munoz said last Thursday.
Lawmakers, at a Sept. 22 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, raised some questions about whether Patty Neubacher’s role in the Pacific West regional office posed a potential conflict with oversight of the park where her husband was superintendent.
“You have somebody who is essentially protected and empowered by his wife,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “How do you let that happen?”
Michael Reynolds, the park service’s deputy director, replied the issue was being looked into.