Rep.Zinke’s Nomination Hearing for Sec. of Interior

In his nomination hearing for Secretary of the Interior on January 17, Representative Ryan Zinke testified he is absolutely opposed to sale or transfer of the nation’s public lands.  He also emphasized public access to public lands, stating, “Americans should not be locked out of their national treasures.”    He expressed his concern that fishing and hunting were heading toward becoming a “lease sport.”  “I am concerned about fences, closed roads and lack of access.”

He believes the Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization should be permanent.

Rep. Zinke favors all types of energy development, stating, “It is better to produce energy here with regulations than elsewhere [in the world] without regulations.”

He admires Theodore Roosevelt and in articulating his philosophy, stated, “Some [lands]  are better managed under the Muir model of wilderness … most are better suited to the Pinchot model of multiple use.”

Rep. Zinke noted “decisions are often better made at the front lines if empower your people to do so.”  He said he is committed to looking at Department of Interior across the board and that “we must think bold and big” in preparing for the future and determining “how Interior should look in 100 years. Recreation will be a bigger piece.”   He also noted that he must restore trust as many believe they have no voice in federal land management policy. Rep. Zinke repeated the importance of the “front line” numerous times – more decisions should be made at the local level and on the ground. He intends to ensure professionals in the agency have the tools, resources and flexibility.

When questioned about the greater sage grouse planning, Rep. Zinke spoke generally of the importance of using sound science and setting “management targets –numbers.”

As to water, he said it is a commodity and that we must invest today in policies for tomorrow . “Some of it is infrastructure to reach requirements, some is efficiency, and some is building better storage/holding capacity, and keeping water clean.”  Clean water also was discussed in the context of invasive species.

Rep. Zinke, as well as several senators, also expressed concern with the maintenance backlog in our national parks of $12.5 billion.