National parks such as Glacier and Yellowstone have received permission to hire seasonal and short-term temporary employees for the upcoming summer season, according to a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Heather Swift, a former spokesperson with U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke and the new press secretary with the Department of the Interior, confirmed that the NPS received an exemption from the federal hiring freeze.
The exemption, issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allows the NPS to prepare for the busy summer months by hiring seasonal employees. The agency can fill positions that are “necessary to meet traditionally recurring seasonal workloads,” according to the Jan. 31 memo.
The exemption is the latest to emerge from the Trump administration following a federal hiring freeze that was announced by President Donald Trump on Jan. 23 through an executive order. The U.S. Forest Service recently received an exemption to hire seasonal wildland firefighters.
The NPS exemption provides relief for an agency that has broken visitation records for three consecutive years and relies on seasonal workers to manage crowds, protect natural resources and conduct other daily duties.
When the freeze took effect, the National Park Service had 1,731 vacant positions. In the coming months, the NPS would typically hire roughly 8,000 seasonal employees to support the peak summer visitation season.
Glacier National Park, which spans Flathead and Glacier counties, hired approximately 350 seasonal employees in fiscal year 2016, with the lion’s share hired between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Currently, the park is advertising for two temporary seasonal positions — a carpenter and an emergency dispatcher.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Zinke’s confirmation in the next week as the new secretary of the interior, which oversees the NPS.