MOULTRIE — A former Reed Bingham State Park ranger says she resigned from the park as a matter of principle, saying the Department of Natural Resource’s actions against former park manager Chet Powell are nothing more than a witch hunt because he objected to clear cutting of timber at the park.

Jennifer Glover, who has worked at the park for the past five years, said she resigned two weeks ago when she saw that an “interview” DNR wanted to conduct with her was actually an “interrogation.”

“I love the park and I respect Chet Powell. I’m worried about what will become of the park now. I’m a naturalist at heart, and I oppose the clear cutting as well,” she said.

Powell was fired on Wednesday after initially being told he was being transferred. Becky Kelley, head of the DNR’s Parks Division wrote a letter to The Observer claiming “baggage of the past” in reference to Powell and his management. She asked the community to support the new management.

However, Kelley ignited a firestorm of sorts with her actions and the “Friends of Reed Bingham” have circulated petitions and have collected thousands of signatures in support of keeping Powell at the Park.

Macon attorney Charley Cox is representing Powell in this issue. The firing notice alleged that Powell misused state funds. Powell said that’s a serious charge, and he will respond to each and all allegations made against him by the state once his attorney gives the OK.

Meanwhile, Glover told The Observer that allegations by state biologists that animals being kept at the park were in poor condition are totally false. Glover was working with a veterinarian service prior to joining the park staff and has since coordinated her animal management efforts with veterinarians.

State biologists came to the park and made notes about the animals. Glover said they mislabeled the animals.

“They didn’t know a lizard from a snake,” she said. “And you would think a state biologist would know the identity of these snakes.”

Glover said she overheard one of the state officials say that “exotic animals had no place at state parks.”

However, she pointed out that when the park team did demonstrations with the animals for the community’s kids, “they were fascinated by that education.”

DNR officials rushed into the park to do an audit after the issue became fiery. Park staff were told this was routine with park management changes. Glover said she has worked through several park management changes and it’s never happened before.

Meanwhile, Cox said he is asking for records of those “routine” audits in this regard.

“I don’t think there are any,” he told The Observer.

Glover said it was clear that the DNR personnel who came to the park were trying to intimidate the staff.

The DNR has implied or stated that there were no plans to clear cut at the park. However, The Observer obtained copies of DNR emails that clearly state those plans, even describing the amount of money that could be derived. A couple of those e-mails were published in Friday’s online edition.

Glover said the park is abundant with wild life.

“What would have happened to them had the park been clearcut?” she asked.

The Friends of Reed Bingham, a multi-county organization of volunteers, have praised Powell’s management of the park, gaining it statewide and national attention. In recent letters to the editor of The Observer, they have detailed the accomplishments under Powell’s management.

It was noted that one of the charges of “misuse” of state funds came from Powell allowing Friends of Reed Bingham to pitch tents and camp free one weekend while they were doing thousands of dollars worth of volunteer work at the park. It was stated that had they been charged, the total amount would have come to about $40, compared to all the free work the Friends had performed.

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