National Park Service changes story on who ordered the American flag removal in Denali. (Tip: It wasn’t Superintendent Brooke Merrell)

Crane with flag at the Pretty Rocks bridge construction project in Denali National Park.

A new version of the National Park Service story about it ordering removal of American flags from construction workers’ vehicles has been issued, and it is 180 degrees different from the agency’s original statement.

According to the latest statement, the Park Service now confirms that a Denali National Park employee indeed contacted the Federal Highway Administration to let a Granite Construction project superintendent know that a visitor had complained about the flapping sound of an American flag, mounted on a vehicle that was on the Parks Road. The construction of a bridge at Pretty Rocks, near Mile 43 of the Park Road, necessitates about one trip a day back to the Parks Highway to retrieve items from a job parts yard outside the park.

“After further review, it has been confirmed that a Denali National Park employee notified FHWA staff about a visitor’s complaint of a flag ‘flapping’ on Denali Park Road and asked if there was an appropriate way to request it be detached from a contractor’s vehicle to limit wildlife and visitor impacts,” park spokesman Peter Christian said. “The employee contacted the FHWA without authorization, and without the superintendent’s knowledge. Park officials have taken corrective actions to ensure future park and project communications follow proper procedures.”

Work underway on a bridge at Pretty Rocks, in Denali National Park this summer.

This account is almost exactly what construction workers said happened, although the workers did not relay the “appropriate way to request” portion of the anti-First Amendment action.

Importantly, the statement noted that Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell, whom has been widely blamed for the incident because she is in command of the park, was not consulted before the action was taken to remove the flag. Instead, it was a lower-level employee contacted the FHA project manager and asked for the flags to be removed from workers’ vehicles. The Park Service issued no apology for either its employee action or misrepresenting it to the public and running a smear campaign on those who reported the incident.

Video of work underway to build a bridge over the landslide on the Park Road.

The previous statement had denied the incident entirely, in essence calling the workers who reported it to independent media outlets in Alaska liars:

“Reports that a National Park Service (NPS) official ordered the removal of an American flag from a Denali bridge construction worker’s vehicle at Denali National Park are false. At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles. The NPS neither administers the bridge project contract, nor has the authority to enforce terms or policies related to the contract or contractors performing the work. The American flag can be seen at various locations within Denali National Park – at park facilities and campsites, on public and private vehicles, and at employee residences – and we welcome its display this Memorial Day weekend and every day,” the Park Service wrote on May 26.

The NPS didn’t change its story until the account from the Federal Highway Administration issued last week contradicted the May 26 statement by the National Park Service.

Meanwhile, a poll in the Must Read Alaska newsletter that ran last week indicates that readers of this publication believed the workers and not the National Park Service May 26 statement of denial.


  1. I guess we better ban all road traffic. A wild critter called to complain about vistors vehicle traffic noise. If I get questioned about the complaint I’ll deny it.

  2. This flag issue exemplifies the extent of disconnect between what has become a totalitarian permanent state government and the citizens it controls. The Park Service controls a vast percentage of our state, including a large percentage of resources that should be used in a real, commodity based economy. The lands they control were designated as such for the express purpose to deny Alaska to mature as a functioning state, and the superintendents have operated as despots since December 2, 1980. The miniscule acreage designated for energy production in ANWR has never been allowed to proceed, yet we act as if the rest of the “deal” is set in stone. Our current government fears and despises it’s subjects and every principle and sacrifice our flag stands for. Our federal congress members will not now and did not ever have any intention of representing the people. The Democrat faction openly supports the destruction of freedom and liberty, while the GOP feigns concern, with the reality they are the other side of the same coin. Our government imprisons dissidents, has convicted the primary opposition leader and advocates morally and spiritually sick causes. Lying about the flag drama has always been a given. This issue has been useful as just another distraction away from the vital issues that are never resolved.

  3. The parkies are just remnants of the Calvary regiment. After the American Indian wars a niche was created starting with Yellowstone. Although the National Park Service wasn’t formulated till 1916, the first national Park Ranger, who is appointed in 1880 for Yellowstone after the almost conclusion of the American Indian wars. Those rangers had kids and when the National Park Service became official these jobs were filled through nepotism. It’s a somewhat inbred agency, or so I am told.

  4. Surprise surprise.
    The NPS actually DID what they insisted they didn’t. What are the odds? Ask John Sturgeon.
    That flapping noise you hear in the park isn’t the American flag. Its NPS employees in behind close doors discussing the careful worded denial with their attorneys and subsequent change of said denial.
    Found it interesting the American flag was mysteriously “missing” from the Denali Park pole over Memorial weekend as DOI head Deb Haaland was raising the Pride flag in New Mexico.
    Imagine we’ll be transporting unicorns to the park soon.

  5. Request it be detached from a contractor’s vehicle to limit wildlife and visitor impacts? Construction isn’t noisy? Sad day for Alaska. I bet there would have been no complaints if it was a gay pride flag.

  6. In my experiene, Park Service employees frequently display this level of entitlement and arrogance. It’s probably part of their training. It is their property, not yours.

  7. Maybe Superintendent Merrell can contact Dermot Cole and have Cole straighten the entire debacle over the flag issue. Dermot’s next column will headline:
    “Tammie Wilson and Her Pal Barbara Haney Concocted the Entire Flag Flap.”

  8. Demand. Deny. Deflect. Prevaricate. Genuflect. Deny. Scapegoat. Genuflect. Protect (accused responsible leader and the NPS). Reflect. Deny. Genuflect. Repeat ad nauseum until issue becomes stale and the organization is relieved of scrutiny. They teach this stuff… Classic bureaucratic butt covering. Fire the whole lot of ’em.

  9. Could this be the ‘final’ version of the truth by the NPS?
    What exactly is the NPS trying to hide and for what reason?
    Why couldn’t they have just told the truth, serval versions ago?
    Should we expect another updated version of the truth soon?
    Why should we believe them or any other Agency now and/or ever?
    Are ‘heads-going-to-roll’ over this Intentful – Willful lying?
    In private industry, there would be ‘consequences’ for this abrogation of fiduciary responsibility, ie: violating public trust and integrity. What consequences, if any, will be administered in this case?

  10. At this point I don’t even believe a complaint was made. It was just as likely the “employee” – whoever it was – used that as his or her excuse to further a personal agenda. I’ve seen this type of thing happen repeatedly in government agencies as a way to leverage a personal vendetta. “A visitor,” “a parent,” “a coworker,” “a client,” there’s always some anonymous person to help resolve something someone doesn’t like. We have got to stop responding to complaints & demands of the minuscule whiney minority!

  11. Just stop digging.
    You screwed up. Admit it. And fire the snowflake.

    I’ve been on enough construction sites to know the noise of the work will overpower the noise of that ole pesky flag. Unless you’re just looking for an excuse to be offended.

  12. So the parks department lied then lied again now claiming it was an oopsidaisy. Some people need fired.

  13. To say that someone’s national park experience was ruined by the sound of a flapping flag is the lamest of lame excuses. And then change the story , how many times? Every day MRA, the story changes again. These people are pathetic losers

  14. So one person complained, eh? Well then, let’s just take away everyone’s rights under the Constitution of the United States of America without due process, and then lie about it to cover our backsides, shall we?

    What in the heck makes anyone, especially the original, and probably apocryphal, whiner in charge of everyone else’s behavior? Don’t like the flag? Move out of the country and you will never have to be offended by it again.

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised if Superintendent Merrell is no longer in Alaska when the snow flies this coming winter, she will likely be taking a better paying job with a more fitting title.

  16. The parkies at Denali cannot be trusted. I worked on a previous construction project on the road in late September of ’05. I had my belly dump there as part of a big string of trucks rocking the road beyond Polychrome pass. The weather was getting iffy and we were all pushing to complete the project before the snow. The road was closed to all traffic except the construction vehicles. There is a long uphill section of the park road that starts at mile 15 where the pavement ends. There is a stop sign at the bottom of the hill. We were told by a couple of rangers to disregard the stop sign so we could roll through it and keep our momentum up as we started the climb up the hill. We were also told we could drive a reasonable amount above the posted speed limit since we were the only vehicles. You guessed it. Another ranger started issuing tickets for failure to stop at the stop sign and for speeding. Never trust these people to work with anyone.

  17. Who pays the wages of the parkies? When the national parks were created…they were called inheritance of ALL AMERICANS. I think anti Americans move to Iran.

  18. Better turn off all the construction equipment as it makes more noise than a flapping flag. People….get a grip

  19. Oh oh! Some sacrificial functionary at the Park Service is getting thrown under the administrative bus. Take the hit, lick your wounds and you will be rewarded for your agency loyalty. Nothing new under the sun.

  20. Several years ago i happened to be in the park visitor’s center and noticed a group of kids huddled around a “ranger”. I overheard a conversation about foxes in the park. The “ranger” was telling these kids that a cross fox is a cross between a red fox and a grey fox.

    What a gross disservice to these young people. Just imagine how many have been led to believe absolute biological nonsense by these inept flunkies.

  21. And to think that it all started with a visitor’s complaint about the flapping sound of the American flag. The woke know no bounds.

  22. All of this was first generated because some wacko, America-hating, commie tourist complained. Well guess what tourist…?…..go home to your BLM rioting city. Leave Alaskans alone. We live here full time. And we will fly the US flag whenever and wherever we want to. Take your complaint to the illegitimate president Biden. Just go away, rotten tourist. We don’t need it!


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