Yesterday was a big day for Montana’s SEAL, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Along with a participating in a cabinet meeting in which members of the Cabinet, acting with the freedom of performers in kabuki theater offered ritual praise of the President, Zinke announced his intentions to shrink the Bears Ears monument.
Zinke claims that his decision was based on a “listening tour” he conducted in Utah last month. That, of course, is only partially true, as Zinke only listened to oil and gas executives and conservative politicians on his tour, giving only an hour to tribal representatives who want to preseve the monument and even less to environmental activists who believe the monument should not be altered.
Zinke’s refusal to listen to the public is even more obvious when you consider that he is choosing to ignore the comment submitted on behalf of preserving this and other monuments. The Salt Lake Tribune notes that 96% of the over 100,000 comments solicited by and sent to Zinke urge Interior to leave the boundaries as they are.
This is just the beginning of the assault on our federal lands we’ll see under Congressman Zinke. In a meeting with the good people of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds, Zinke said that he wants to privatize the camping experience in national parks:
The Trump administration frames the issue of private companies on public lands differently. In a call with reporters last month, Zinke said: “We have not been a good partner with industry. We have not been a partner you can invest in.”
Last week he told members of the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds he wanted to change that.
“I don’t want to be in the business of running campgrounds,” he said. “My folks will never be as good as you are on it.”
Anyone from Montana who enjoys recreating in our national parks knows that the professionalism and expertise offered by the Park Service people who run campgrounds, assist visitors, and manage the facilities is one of the best parts of the experience. And anyone who’s really from Montana knows that the primary purpose of our national parks is not to faciliate corporate profits, but to preserve our incredible facilities for future generations.
Secretary Zinke is selling off that legacy piece by piece, and Montanans who want to preserve our monuments and recreational opportunies had better keep an eye on him.