Ryan Zinke Defends A Million Dollar Cut in the Glacier National Park Budget


Remember how Ryan Zinke used to answer questions about global warming by talking about growing up next to Glacier Park and watching the glaciers recede? Remember Zinke spending federal dollars for a photo op at the Park? Remember when, a few days after his confirmation as Secretary of the Interior, he claimed that he and President Trump wanted to tackle the $125 million maintenance backlog and make the “visitor experience world class”?

Surely, you remember that Zinke told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle earlier this year that one of his top priorities as head of Interior would be “to prioritize the estimated $12.5 billion in backlog of maintenance and repair in our national parks.”

It turns out that Zinke doesn’t actually care about Glacier National Park at all, issuing a written statement defending the proposed Trump budget’s $1 million cut to funding for Glacier and millions more across federally managed lands that Zinke oversees.

There’s little doubt that Congressman Zinke has been busy in his tenure at Interior: he’s made time for a huge number of appearances on conservative media, for meetings with oil company executives, and for meetings with two people described as “America’s own shitlords.”

What he hasn’t found time to do is to fight for the budgets our national parks desperately need. And because it’s Ryan Zinke, you know that he earlier said he would, telling Interior employees right after his confirmation that he would protect the budget:

“I looked at the budget,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in his first address to employees. “I’m not happy. We’re going to fight about it, and I think I’m going to win at the end of the day.”

Our national parks in Montana are more than a backdrop for photo opportunities for vainglorious politicians. They play an essential role in our economy and our character. That Ryan Zinke isn’t willing to fight to protect them shows just how little regard he has for the people he once said he represented.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • We are expecting record crowds at Glacier again this year- there have even been discussions of possibly moving to a one out/ then one in method of dealing with congestion. The good news thus far, is that people will be able to ride public transportation into the the park twice a day beginning on July 1. Cost only 3$ one way, 5$ round trip plus cost of entry fee.

    I hope that you will dissect Zinke’s comments about his Cincinnati appearance with the orange one.

    • The Jammer is a great way to tour the Park the first time. I’ve driven it several times, but Ron and I decided the Jammer would be fun. It was so easy. No watching out for tourists’ cars, no heart-stoppers when idiots dart across the road, and you have a higher vantage so you have better views over the stone walls. And you get a nice commentary as you go. I think the driver stopped at least twice for us to get a peak across the wall and take pictures.

      • The Jammer is great for folks that can afford it-the park shuttle is free! Not only that, but they are still running bicycles up the mountain until the pass is open. Our success may be assured despite the Trump/Zinke/Daines/Gianforte agenda because we are so lucky to have great people doing the work that matters in the end.

    • Not a lot of dissecting to do, Carla. Same old talking points, mostly. He did get his “former Navy SEAL” line out during the interview’s first 20 seconds. Otherwise, he was plugging Trump’s infrastructure plan, which is yet to be revealed. Since there are massive cuts being suggested for Zinke’s own interior department, I doubt we’ll see any upgraded infrastructure in national parks, monuments (if there are any left), other federal lands or Indian reservations.

      Zinke deflected questions about Comey and the Russia investigation, calling it a distraction and blaming Democrats for “resisting, resisting, resisting” any bills being advanced by Trump and the GOP.

      Here’s a Washington Post article on Trump’s infrastructure plan: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/08/trump-keeps-pretending-his-infrastructure-plan-is-real-its-not/?utm_term=.717d352a1423

      • Of course it is privatize for pennies on the dollar, and what red blooded Montanan hasn’t been wanting to pull over to pay toll fees on what used to be our highways? What I wanted you to dissect is the role of Sec of Interior- has it always been military foreign policy, privatizing public assets and all of the other blah blah blah that Zinke spouts?

  • So, where’s all the ‘tough’ SEAL bravado to speak Truth to Trump on vital needs of NPS?

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