On blast: Sen. Sullivan takes Park Service to task for banning American flags on construction trucks in Denali National Park

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Denali Park Road work at Pretty Rocks Landslide by Granite Construction.

Construction workers blasting and building a bridge at the Pretty Rocks landslide area inside Denali National Park say the park’s superintendent has banned them from flying American flags on their vehicles because it degrades the ambiance of the park experience for visitors.

Workers from Granite Construction said Denali National Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell contacted a company foreman through an employee of the Federal Highway Administration, saying the Park Service had received complaints from someone driving through the park who reported that the 3×5 flags were detracting from their enjoyment.

Sen. Dan Sullivan sent letter to the director of the National Park Service Charles “Chuck” Sams III, expressing his strong disapproval to the demand that workers take the American flags off their trucks and heavy equipment. Sullivan also spoke about it on the Mike Porcaro Show on Friday, saying Sullivan’s State Director Adam Trombley was on the phone trying to reach Park Superintendent Merrell.

Sullivan said that the matter was especially concerning in that it came on the eve of Memorial Day weekend.

“As you know, a major construction project is underway in the Denali National Park and Preserve to build a bridge at mile 45 of the Park Road, an area known as Pretty Rocks. One of the vehicles involved in the construction had a 3 x 5 foot American flag affixed to it while working on this project. For reasons that remain unclear, someone at the National Park Service (NPS) caused the construction crew to remove the American flag from the vehicle,” Sullivan wrote to Sam’s.

“This is an outrage—particularly in the lead-up to our most solemn national holiday, Memorial Day, a time when Americans come together to honor those that gave their lives in service to our nation, while wearing our country’s flag. The American flag, especially on Memorial Day weekend, should be celebrated, not censored by federal government employees,” the letter said.

“There is no federal regulation or law that I can conceive of that would ban the flying of the American flag on public land – particularly in a national park the principal purpose of which is the enjoyment of American citizens,” Sullivan’s letter said.

Sullivan asked NPS Director Sams to investigate the incident and determine what transpired, including whether there was some kind of requirement in the contract with Granite Construction that would prohibit the display of an American flag, and the circumstances in which this incident was handled and by whom. “I also request you outline what concrete steps—be they increased training, clearer guidelines, updating policies—the NPS will take to ensure an incident like this does not happen again in American national parks.”

In the Stampede area of the Denali Borough, a man who owns property next to Merrell’s homesite and who shares a driveway with her told Must Read Alaska that he lined the driveway with American flags on Friday, so that she can enjoy them when she comes and goes.

Reaction: A Stampede-area man in the Denali Borough who shares a driveway with the Denali National Park superintendent lined it with American flags on Friday so she can enjoy them as she goes to work.

Merrell took over management of the park in 2022, and was celebrated as the first woman to serve at the park’s superintendent. According to the National Park Service, Merrell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and received a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Utah and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. Prior to moving to Alaska, she worked for DNA People’s Legal Services on the Navajo Nation, the City of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, and Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Summer access to facilities and services in Denali are limited due to the Pretty Rocks Landslide and the associated closure of the Park Road at Mile 43; the landslide occurred on and off between 2021 and 2022. Transit buses and tour buses travel only as far as the East Fork Bridge (Mile 43 of the Denali Park Road). Eielson Visitor Center and Wonder Lake Campground are closed.

99 COMMENTS

  1. Im sure the NPS (Nazi police state) would not have objected to Hamas and South Korean flags hanging on their trucks.
    Shame on the park director.
    She should be reassigned to cleaning porta potties within the park.

    • Craig,
      The fact is the Park Service has for some 30 years now behaved rather badly, whether it’s in Skagway or their claim of Submerged lands in Glacier Bay. Thankfully for Alaskans John Sturgeon fought the Park Rangers and was rewarded with a 9 to 0 ruling by the Supremes regarding submerged lands and the access of navigable waterways. How about that Lisa, Dunleavy and Danny Boy, wanna go back and make the case that Tony Knowles surrendered our (State) right and title to submerged lands in Glacier Bay through undue pressure by the through Feds Color of Law?
      DANNY! are you with us here, oh wait you were not in Alaska then were you?

    • I think you mean North Korea. They have the nutty little communist dictator guy.

      South Korea is a US ally with a capitalist economy.

      But you’re otherwise correct. They’re ashamed of our flag, and they’re happy to replace it with those of our enemies.

  2. Typical impotent, pretend outrage by an emasculated Democrat which calls himself a Republican. The NPS could care less what this mildly annoying, but irrelevant Senator from Alaska writes. If Sullivan cared about our flag, and the sacrifice our veterans have made, he would end the misuse of our military in endless wars that just get innocent people killed to enrich his donor base of military industrial corporations. He would advocate deploying our military on our borders, not in useless projects spreading tyranny across the globe.

    • Bla bla bla. This tired trope against our beloved flag and fighting men & women is tiring.
      Take your opinions and move away.

      • I love our flag, and every man in our family served in its’ wars. I detest how our flag, nation and servicemen have been denigrated and used the last 30 years to exploit other countries for financial gain of elitists, destroying economies and millions of innocent people killed. Our country advocating the sick and perverse values it now forces on other people. We don’t even care for the vets maimed or families with lost fathers. But we spend trillions to support corrupt MIC companies and bloated commands with 4 star generals who never fought a real war or achieved anything. An unbroken string of lost wars of aggresion that they don’t have the guts to even declare. Looking like 3rd world dictators adorned with medals for their services destroying our military from within. You are welcome and encouraged to move to whatever outside state you came from with your typical liberal white, superior attitude. Our ancestors were here for thousands of years, and with our children and grandchildren we are not migrating away from our land.

        • Bla bla bla. This tired trope against our beloved flag and fighting men & women is tiring.
          Take your opinions and move away. And, then, take a nice big pack of “Shut the Hell Up”.

        • Brian, you sound like a small child you has been denied ice cream after an incredible dinner. Go whine somewhere else. No one can even make sense of what you’re trying to argue. Go back to your local book club because no one cares to hear you whine like a baby here.

    • Dan Sullivan retired as a Colonel in the Marines. When he was Major Sullivan he was my CO.

  3. I will never understand why people from outside try to change paradise into the sh*th*le they came from. This woman is a disgrace to America, she is a disgrace to Alaska and she is a disgrace to Denali and should be removed from her post and shipped out of this majestic place before she turns it into the sh*th*le she came from. Just a disgusting display of “lefties losing it”! One pissed off Veteran!

  4. Send her back to PA and show her the history their , then let her know We don’t give a damn how they do things in the lower 48! I have never believed in the NPS just a major drain on tax payers.

    • Sad that a liberal, woke DEI communist is the head of the park now. In the past I’ve worked great park people. Next they’ll relocate mama’s there and fly their flag. Being a veteran, I’m pissed they hired that idiot.

    • It’s a HER (Denali NPS Superintendent) not a Him, LoL. No disrespect, just wanted to point that out in case you were not aware.

  5. This is the type of idiocy that should receive a blatant REFUSAL to comply. The problem in this nation is that we are standing around letting the idiots boss us around. I have a pat response for people that attempt to demand I conform to their BS. Use your imagination.

  6. Another ungrateful – unpatriotic college indoctrinated twit.
    Another woman hired based on DEI rather than merit.
    Another woman supervisor making decisions on her emotions.
    Another Bolshevik instilled in the ever-growing Bureaucracy.
    AND(!!!), people get upset with me for saying:
    … Just another woman doing a man’s job!

    • The fact that she is a female has nothing to do with making a totally stupid decision. Male superintendents have been making bad decisions for many many years.

    • I like your first sentence Rob B. That says it all.
      There is an organized planned drive to the park by many people flying flags on their cars on Sunday before Memorial Day. They will gather outside the park.

  7. What about our rigged elections should we not pump the brakes on everything till we the people get some oath integrity so help them GOD. Stop paying retirement stop paying judges all government till we the people get some oath integrity. MOCKING GOD & THE PEOPLE OUR CONSTITUTION POLICE YOURSELVES OATH TAKERS

  8. Merrell sounds like a typical left-wing loonies that has been struck by the wand of DEI and ‘The Peter Principle’. She needs To be removed from her position.

    • I was thinking it would be cool if a massive motorcade visited the park on Memorial Day all decked in the Stars n Stripes!! And I agree with others she should leave the State ASAP.

  9. Surprised they didn’t send the NPS swat team with use of force orders to take down the stars and bars. Most of the visitors aren’t even from the US.

  10. I hope this didn’t happen, and we’re all overreacting.
    I don’t smell a Smullet and they’re usually pretty easy to spot.
    God Bless America!

  11. Sullivan finally made the valid point about whether their contract prohibits them flying flags, but it goes further. Is the park superintendent the contracting officer or COTR?

    If not, she cannot change the terms of the contract mid-contract, and has NO AUTHORITY to tell them anything. None.
    They should fly the flag and tell her to piss in a pot. She can’t do jack s*it

  12. Thank you Senator Sullivan!! How dare Ms. “first woman of parks” demand the removal of American flags from vehicles in A PUBLIC FEDERAL PARK! And on Memorial Day weekend??? Are you serious??! Every American citizen should call for the immediate dismissal of Ms. First Woman of Parks. She is a disgrace and owes every American an apology as she’s walking out the door with her coffee mug.

  13. So, let’s run up the Communist Red Chinese flag instead. Or the flag of the old Soviet Union. Or how about the terrorist flag of the Palestinian state. Sure, that would be great for this pos Brooke Merrill and her radical left-wingers at the NPS.
    .
    The good construction workers on the job site know who the America Haters are. Just heave them over Pretty Rocks and cover them up. Make Denali Great Again!

  14. Best remedy for the temporary Communist takeover at Denali:

    While driving through Denali Park on the Parks Highway this weekend:………………

    FLY THE US FLAG!!!!!

  15. Fly the Stars & Stripes. – High & Proud ! Tell Ms. “Park Director” to pound sand. Those offended by the American Flag need just …I think you catch my drift.

  16. So, who is allowed to drive close enough to the worksite that they can be offended by the flags? Just the Superintendent? Or are park visitors flying over top of the trucks and being offended that way? This whole business stinks on ice. Good on the neighbor reminding this lady by whom she is employed.

    • The construction workers at Pretty Rocks we’re offended by Brooke Merrell of NPS. Patriotic construction workers know how to get even.
      😆🤣

    • I’m suspecting some woke employees are the real complainers. It would be nice to file a freedom of info request to get the exact details. Its all to handy to hide behind “someone complained”…. I look at the pictures of the rock and dirt work going on and yet someone whines about some flags?

  17. Typical Parkie behavior. Most Denali NPS employees live either in the Park or in their “safe from American riffraff” haven of Mckinley Village.

    Generally you only see them in the wild at Fisher’s Fuel or at Healy Three Bears.

    Their attitude generally is that it is “their” Park, not yours, and you may only look with their permission and touch nothing.

    They are living proof that the Federal government could lay off 75% of their workforce and no one would notice.

    • I keep harping on the fact that Alaska could reduce all Agency budgets by a minimum of 25%, in an effort to get State expenditures under control, and eliminate the waste. Same concept with the Feds but, I certainly like your idea of a 75% cut. I think Argentina did something similar, cutting out complete Agencies, in an effort to balanc e their books and get their Guv’ment expenditures under control. It’s the only action that will greatly improve our chances as a Country to get the National Debt under control, as well as, start eliminating the Swamp of life-long Bureaucrats!

  18. I enjoy seeing nature without any flags (American or otherwise). I also appreciate the sacrifices made by our military veterans. Lets focus less on flags and more on what makes us great as a nation.

    • Wow. Myopia Award of the Day goes to you.

      One, the flag is a non-political symbol, it is a standard which represents us all.

      Two, displaying the flag is am act of speech…of free speech made by free men. The action itself IS out nation.

      Three, I’m not entirely sure if you’ve been around construction equipment, but last I checked it doesn’t exactly blend perfectly Denali either or any other not orange/yellow scenery.

      Four. Point number three should make it very clear that this was a direct attempt by a Federal administrator to stifle the free speech of an American. THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ABOUT, not the views.

      • One: I don’t know what your first point has to do with my comment. I didn’t claim it was political.
        Two: I didn’t say it wasn’t speech. What is “out nation”?
        Three: Did you look at the picture featured at the top of this article? Are there any places you think flying the US flag would be unaesthetic or inappropriate?
        Four: I hope you vote regularly, unlike so many Americans who don’t.

    • If the flag disturbs you, turn in a different direction. Problem solved.

      It’s not like the flag was draped all over McKinley. It was at a construction sight.

  19. The complaint was that someone, most importantly “one” was offended. You don’t like the American flag go to Iran, they have lots of nice wilderness. Try Siberia, lots of wilderness and you won’t find one American flag.

  20. I looked in the comment section and all is see is a bunch of right wing crybabies who want to complain about culture issues and make false equivalences of how this is akin to the CCP or supporting Palestinians, nice to show that you’re drinking your red pill juice and loving it you bunch of old dinosaur degenerates 🤣

    • I’m not right wing, but I am a vicious supporter of the rights of Americans to exercise free speech.

      Here’s what it’s about.

      One, she’s limiting free speech of an American citizen on public lands as a government representative.

      Two, quite frankly, I doubt that she was targeting the flag so much as targeting individuals for their political and speech choices…construction workers aren’t “her people.”

    • They are pathetic and need to complain about something or their life has no meaning. They are addicted to outrage. I wouldn’t be surprised if this whole thing is made up. The construction is in the middle of nowhere so no one can verify anything. Imagine all your waking thoughts being angry about stuff that didn’t happen or is made up. Good use of limited time on earth.

    • Kindly be quiet child when adults are talking. When you have moved out of your mother’s basement and actually accomplished something, maybe we can talk. How about enlisting and serving the country for a spell…….oh you are too good for that? Yep that’s what I thought!

      See how that works? Lobbing mindless rhetoric at those you disagree with does not move the debate forward, so I challenge you to make an actual point and support it, so we have somewhere to start a real dialogue…….

  21. Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Utah and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School? How does an Urban Planning degree possibly qualify someone for running a National Park in which the purported goal is to keep it as un-urban as possible?? Pathetic…

    • Denali National Park is a community in and of itself. It has employee housing and a post office. Most of their permanent employees live either in the Park or immediately adjacent to it in a small pseudo-community called Mckinley Village.

      In general, though not exclusively, they keep to themselves away from those “despicable Alaskans.”

      So in the sense that Denali is a very small urban center away from other communities, her degree is sort of accurate…totally useless, but accurate.

  22. Hopefully people will actually get to the facts about who really said what, instead of the character assassination of a dedicated park superintendent. It seems that the actual facts aren’t important as people just want to be outraged and paint this as a woke agenda. The initial reporter on this should have looked closer at the facts instead of attributing anything against the park superintendent.

    • Patricia, in the end the park superintendent is the person “where the buck stops”. She either supported this demand by another employee or made it herself. Since you do not have “the facts” either and the paragraph above makes it clear that the construction crew made a declarative statement regarding the banishment of their American flag in the park, it comes back to the park superintendent, who makes the final determinations on what goes on in the park.

    • So patriots have to concede to a sensitive woke imbecile? I think NOT! The super should have told the person who complained about our nations’ flag – in the words of Candace Owens – “Life’s tough…get a helmet”.

  23. She can put her burka back on and go back to Portlandistan post haste. Alaskans should mount flags and drive through the public areas of our park as often as possible.

  24. My Christian faith convicts me not to honor dead images such as symbols. I view the American flag as only a symbol for identifying our nationality. I pledge allegiance to our constitution (rather than our flag)…. and to the republic for which it stands. That said, claiming to be offended by our flag is ridiculous narcissism; it is contrary to the liberty of those displaying it. The article says, “One of the vehicles involved in the construction had a 3×5 foot American flag affixed to it while working on this project.” It is incredible to claim our flag is a distraction while the vehicle itself is an obviously larger distraction (proving the complaint is political in the most negative sense). Like others have said, anyone offended by the symbol of our nation is obviously offended by the concept of our republic. They should leave.

    • She’s figuring how much money she plans on spending the next time Mitch McConnell asks her to vote on

    • Where’s Lisa???
      … Campaigning for her next election cycle?
      … Devising a way to be compensated for switching to (D)?
      … Working w/ BlackRock to send more Taxpayer $$$ to Ukraine?
      … Completely incapacitated due to a monthly ‘severe’ menstrual meltdown // breakdown (ie: Hot Flashes, Mood Swings, Cramps, Constant Complaining & Irritable).

  25. A buddy and I took an S-130/190 wild land firefighting class in a national park in 1996 and even then it was packed full of the wokest of the woke, the most left liberals you can imagine. Of the 21 people in the class my buddy and I were the only ones with real jobs, the only ones without a degree in underwater basket weaving who hadn’t been in the peace corp.

    • Dallas, selling vacuums and encyclopedia’s door to door are not exactly what the rest of us call “real jobs.”

  26. How in the —- did this ignorant —— get assigned to this position? She is supposed to be a representative of this great country. Anyone not supporting our great nation and honoring our flag needs to leave our great nation ASAP. She is a disgrace to this Country.

  27. I agree with the park service. Take down the flags and let the Denali natural terrain remain untouched. A national park is not the venue to post flags in of support Memorial Day. Do it on your own property.

    • There is a flag flying at the Eielson Visitor Center, Cheryl. Do you say that should come down too? How about all the flag stickers on campers — also not allowed by Cheryl? People are not allowed to decorate their own vehicles or must past the Cheryl Test for good taste before they go inside a national park? You are why we need a constitution, Cheryl. It’s because of people like you.

  28. This “Superintendent” should be terminated immediately and with cause- ignorance to the land for which the park belongs to and she represents.

  29. Per NPS:

    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.

    Suzanne, when is the follow up article coming? You may have the Rubes fooled and it may even make you a few pennies, but you’re an absolutely horrible person. Hopefully the silk pillowcases make it all worth it. I’ll think of you during hurricane season.

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