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Swimsuit photos illustrate controversy in National Parks

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UTAH -- The National Park Service, including Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, is under fire for what an advocacy group calls an insensitivity towards its own workforce when it approved permits for photo shoots for Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Edition in 2015.

The complaints are surfacing now because of dozens of reports of sexual harassment from female park employees, which were validated by an investigation of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Laura Dumais with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (PEER), told FOX 13 News her organization received angry calls from women in the Park Service complaining that the photo shoot illustrates a problem within the culture of the parks.

“How could they possibly authorize this while at the same time claim to have a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment?” asked Dumais.

Park Service Public Affairs director Tom Crosson told FOX 13 News they care what their employees think.

“Absolutely we are sensitive to how our employees view activities in the parks,” he said.

Crosson said the park considers only three factors when evaluating a permit request:

  1. Does it damage the park?
  2. Does it interfere with the experience of guests?
  3. Is it legal?