The Department of Interior, which manages the most public land in the U.S., has a new leader. Today, the Senate confirmed Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as the new Secretary of the Interior. As we shared earlier, Rep. Zinke is a good choice for Interior Secretary. He is an active outdoorsman who has taken mostly good positions on public lands, and he has shared his commitment to keeping public lands public during his confirmation hearings.
But what will Zinke be like as leader of the agency that oversees 500 million acres of public land?
While we expect him to stay strong on his commitment to keep public lands public, there will be intense political pressure to weaken the management authority of federal government and erode the public process on public lands. His voting record has at times been mixed. He recently voted yes on the House rules package that contained a provision valuing public lands at $0.
We also expect him to make an early trip out West, and to visit Utah in particular, where the legislature has demanded that the Trump administration nullify Bears Ears National Monument. Outdoor Alliance strongly supports the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, and while it would be unprecedented for Secretary Zinke or President Trump to alter it, we know that the Secretary will need to hear from Americans about their support for protecting climbing and other recreation in the region.
Further, any attack on National Monument in Utah (or elsewhere in the west) is a slippery slope to undermining the Antiquities Act, a crucial conservation tool that Presidents in both parties have used to provide additional protections for important public lands.
If you want to read more, click at right to read the letter we sent to Secretary Zinke with the Outdoor Industry Association, Friends of Indian Creek, and the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance.
And if you want to take action to share your outdoor priorities with Secretary Zinke, we’ve made it easy to send him a message.