Story by Think Progress.orgas published on
Interior Secretary has a two-faced approach to public lands protection
President Donald Trump plans to visit Utah on Monday where he is expected to sign an executive order calling for major reductions in the size of the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The dramatically smaller sizes of the two Utah national monuments would be based on recommendations made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
As part of his review of national monuments across the United States, the Interior secretary did not recommend a reduction in the size of any in his home state of Montana. In fact, Zinke, who represented Montana in Congress prior to taking over as Interior secretary earlier this year, recommended that Trump create a new 130,000-acre national monument in the Badger-Two Medicine area of northwestern Montana.
Both Bears Ears and Badger-Two Medicine are of cultural significance to Native American tribes. But only one is in Zinke’s home state.
“Everything that Secretary Zinke does in Montana is 180 degrees from what he does to the rest of the country,” Center for Western Priorities spokesperson Aaron Weiss told ThinkProgress. “Montana gets special treatment because he would like to be governor there some day.” The Center for Western Priorities is a nonprofit conservation and advocacy organization for communities in the Western United States.
The Department of the Interior did not respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment on Zinke’s decision to seek a new national monument in Montana.
Altogether, Zinke advised Trump to shrink the boundaries of at least four national monuments, none of them in Montana. Secrecy shrouded the Interior secretary’s review of the status of national monuments. The Interior Department has never made Zinke’s full report available to the public. The report, however, was leaked to the Washington Post in September. In the report, Zinke did not recommend a reduction in the size of the Upper Missouri River Breaks, the only national monument located in Montana on the list for review by the Interior secretary…(CONTINUED)