Former Congressman Zinke is Coming for Your National Monuments and Campgrounds

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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • During yesterday’s cabinet meeting, lest we forget, Zinke opens with, “as the SEAL on your staff… ” then goes on to say he’ll be the “generator of energy dominance,” which I didn’t realize was the job description of the Secretary of the Interior.

    The Navy SEAL line was also the first words out of his mouth in a Fox interview on jobs and infrastructure last week after traveling with Trump to Ohio.

    Here’s the cabinet video:

    Zinke follows 4 minutes and 45 seconds of pandering sycophants.

  • Where was all the outrage when the Obama administration awarded Xanterra contracts in 2013 to run privatized lodging and services in Yellowstone and Glacier for another 20 years? And don’t forget that was the same Xanterra that was doing energy exploration on Glacier’s east flank. And Xanterra is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, sports, rail, media and energy oligarch xtraordinaire.

    Anschutz is an odd choice for the Obama admin to turn over Park concessions to, considering his political views are diametrically opposed to liberal progressive views.

    I also haven’t heard of any complaints about Delaware North running 12 general stores in Yellowstone.

    And where were progressive liberals opposed to privatization when the Obama administration continued to hard press to fully privatize USFS campgrounds?

    But I guess when you’ve demonized one politician long enough, you might as well keep hitting him over the head.

  • What a ‘Putz’ Zinke is, total ‘fake’ and wears cowboy hats backwards…..’Super Seal’ Zinke will probably go after ‘Smokey the Bear’ and blast him with a red, white and blue full-auto special SEAL assault rifle!

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