Zinke All Ears to Anti-Public Lands Extremists, Refuses to Hold Public Meetings on So-Called “Listening Tour”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s taxpayer-funded tour of Utah’s national monuments this week was more of a scenic vacation than legitimate ‘listening tour.’ The photo-ops on horseback were dominated by anti-public lands extremists, closed-door meetings, and blunders. While Zinke claimed this was a ‘listening tour,’ he held no public meetings and only met with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Friends of Cedar Mesa for a total of an hour and a half after multiple requests for extended meetings were denied.
When you only listen to one-side of the issue, hold no public meetings, and ride a horse through some of Utah’s most pristine landscapes, it’s called a vacation not a ‘listening tour.
Here’s a recap of Zinke’s Utah vacation:
Prior to the executive order signing, Zinke explained at a press briefing that, “and in the case of public land use, we feel that the public, the people that the monuments affect, should be considered…and give states and local communities a meaningful voice in the process.”
Apparently meaningful voices don’t include businesses thriving after national monument designations, who were also thwarted in their attempts to meet with the Secretary.
This is a stark contrast to the previous administration’s visit to Bears Ears, before making the designation, where Interior Secretary Sally Jewell posted public schedules, invited the press to attend tours, and held a three-hour public meeting. They also conducted extensive outreach before the designation, contrary to claims made by Utah’s congressional delegation.
The department will open a brief 15-day online comment period on Bears Ears National Monument and 60-day period on all other monuments under review starting May 12 at http://www.regulations.gov.
He may not have had the best vacation, but at least Secretary Zinke saw some of the country’s most cherished and pristine lands that deserve continued protection.