Should we conserve American wilderness and cultural sites, or bulldoze trees, lop off mountaintops and deface areas of spiritual and ancestral heritage to benefit extractive industries?

The fiery, never-ending debate over how to manage America’s public lands will come to a head on Thursday when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submits his recommendations for reducing or rescinding some of the 27 national monuments President Trump tasked him with reviewing via an executive order back in April.

Zinke, a former Navy Seal and Congressman from Montana, has already recommended reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument, one of the most controversial designations of the Obama era. And while the Interior Secretary has indicated that he’ll leave at least half a dozen monuments untouched, others, like Grand Staircase-Escalante and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, may have their borders redrawn, too.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico is one of 27 national monuments being reviewed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Bob Wick / BLM)

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico is one of 27 national monuments being reviewed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Bob Wick / BLM)

If there’s a silver lining to this totally unnecessary review, it’s that Zinke will finally be thrust into the spotlight, pressured by his egomaniacal boss to commit ecocide in an effort to erase Obama’s conservation legacy and put more money into the pockets of executives in the fossil-fuel, mining and timber industries.

Up to this point, Zinke has flown under the radar, largely thanks to the brashness of his counterpart at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), climate skeptic Scott Pruitt, who has been outspoken in his pursuit of a fossil-fuel soaked agenda focused on deregulation, regardless of the consequences for the environment and public health.

But like almost all of Trump’s top-level appointees, Zinke, a passionate fisherman and hunter who fashions himself in the vein of Teddy Roosevelt, has been acting like a well-planted virus, destroying environmental policy from the inside-out at the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Here are some of his accomplishments so far:

Based on Zinke’s chequered record laden with acts of ecocide, and the fact that he has taken $350,000 since 2013 from fossil-fuel companies hoping to extract on public lands, the national monument review slated to land on Trump’s desk on Thursday is unlikely to err on the side of preserving America’s unique wilderness through conservation and stewardship. But there’s still time to prove everyone wrong.

Tell us, Mr. Zinke: What would Teddy Roosevelt do?

Brian Klonoski is a writeroutdoor photographer and the VP of Strategy at Planet Experts

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One Response

  1. W. Douglas Smith says:

    Good investigative reporting and well written article. The hope is that the more good reporting like this come out the more people will less persuaded by the misinformation and special interest propaganda influencing Trump’s base. I look for more of your investigative reporting.

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