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Is Zinke’s appointment good for the outdoor industry?
The U.S. Senate confirmed Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of the Department of the Interior Wednesday morning.
The outdoor recreation community has mixed feelings about Zinke’s appointment. On one hand, the Outdoor Industry Association endorsed his run for Montana’s at-large congressional seat in 2016 and supported his DOI nomination. OIA congratulated him in a press release issued after his appointment, and said it’s looking forward to working with him. But many in the conservation community are leery of what they perceive to be a wavering commitment to public lands.
Zinke supported a bill that would have allowed local governments to take over management of 5 million acres of federal land, according to an article from SNEWS sister publication Backpacker.
“He’s been very supportive of more logging and mining on public lands, and people don’t like to go hiking in clear-cut forests and open pit mines,” Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, told Backpacker. “Most backpackers like solitude. That’s not what Congressman Zinke has proposed.”
But Zinke also represents a Trump appointee the outdoor industry can work with. It’s no secret that the Trump administration is at odds with the industry on more than a few issues. Zinke, though, presents an opportunity for open dialogue. When he testified before Congress in January, he said he believes climate change “is not a hoax.” Several of Trump’s other nominees and appointees are noted climate change skeptics, like Scott Pruitt, who now leads the EPA.
“OIA congratulates Secretary Zinke on this new role, and we look forward to working closely with him and his staff at Interior to promote the fundamental role of America’s public lands and waters to the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts in a statement. “We appreciate Secretary Zinke’s commitment to ensuring all Americans have access to their public lands system, and we look forward to supporting his efforts to preserve policy tools that keep protections for public lands in place.”
Want to share your thoughts with Secretary Zinke during his first few days in office? Send him a note.