Make no mistake: Our public lands are under an unprecedented assault by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his allies. At no time in American history has one administration single-handedly – and so frequently without legal grounds – rolled back more public land protections or threatened our outdoor heritage and our future generations’ birthright to enjoy public lands than the current one.
Here’s an abbreviated list of Secretary Zinke’s attacks on our public lands:
- Moved to privatize national park campgrounds and other public services.
- Demonstrated openly hostility toward park service and federal employees by calling them “serpents” and claiming one-third are “not loyal to the flag.”
- Illegally removed the largest acreage of public land protections in U.S. history with the reduction of two national monuments in Utah.
- Undermined nearly a decade of bipartisan work across 11 western states that established the largest cooperative habitat management plan to prevent the listing of the imperiled sage-grouse that also provides for over 350 other species, like deer, elk and antelope.
- Challenged congressional authority to alter national monuments, undermining President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy and signature piece of legislation, the Antiquities Act.
- Purged dozens of lifelong civil servants such as the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.
- Cost taxpayers over $40 million in royalties to date by eliminating the methane waste rule; that number continues to rise as the waste continues.
The list could go on. Western Values Project, a Montana-based nonprofit in Whitefish with offices and staff in Whitefish, Helena and Washington, D.C., is a watchdog that seeks to expose these problems to the public. We have thousands of supporters across the country who back our work, all of whom, like us, are committed to protecting public lands.
We have an office in Washington, D.C., to watch legislation, policy, and Secretary Zinke’s official work when he’s back East, which seems to be more and more. We’d be happy to sit down and meet in Whitefish with anyone who is sincerely interested in discussing our research on this administration’s mismanagement of public lands. We also have a website as well as several social media accounts where you can interact with us and learn more about the issues.
Don’t buy what these corporate front groups are selling when you can see the administration’s actions on public lands with your own two eyes. Western Values Project is committed to defending public lands by holding policymakers and special interests accountable. We’ll be here long after Zinke is gone, because public lands are part of our way of life. It’s just unfortunate that we need more watchdogs than ever under Secretary Zinke’s failed leadership and mismanagement.
Chris Saeger, executive director, Western Values Project
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