Ryan Zinke is No Teddy Roosevelt

Published: January 17, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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Okay, he knows how to ride a horse perhaps as well as conservationist president Teddy Roosevelt.  And he was a Navy SEAL for more than 20 years. Does that qualify him to be the Secretary of the Interior to serve and protect our National Parks?

After asking for a meeting with Secretary Zinke for months, ten of the twelve advisory board members decided to resign. Speaking on behalf of himself and eight other members, former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles addresses the issue as reported by CNN (Jan. 17).

“ ‘Here we were just being basically stonewalled. … They had no interest in learning our agenda, and what we had to brief them on,’ Knowles told CNN. ‘The board said we need to make a statement. We can’t make a statement to the secretary, then we need to make a public statement.’

“Eight of the nine who were part of the letter had terms expiring in May, and suspected [The Department of the] Interior was running out the clock.

“ ‘For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI as prescribed by law,’ the letter reads. ‘We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new department team are clearly not part of its agenda.’

“ ‘I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside,’ the letter said.

“Alaska Public Radio,” NPR reports (Jan. 17), “quoted Knowles as saying that the Department of the Interior ‘showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education.

“ ‘And it has rescinded NPS regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change,” he added.

In a report by The Washington Post (Jan. 17), “In May 2017, Zinke suspended all outside committees while his staff reviewed their composition and work. …

“On Wednesday, Carolyn ‘Carrie’ Hessler Radelet, the chief executive of Project Concern International, submitted a separate resignation letter. ‘[F]rom all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside,’ wrote Radelet, whose term was not set to expire until 2021. ‘I hope that future actions of the Department of Interior demonstrate that this is not the case.’ ”

“Two of the Bureau of Land Management’s 38 resource advisory councils (RACs) — Rocky Mountain and Southwest Colorado, The Post continues, “had to postpone meetings scheduled for Thursday because their charters were out of date.

“ ‘It’s concerning that our advisory council has been unable to meet for over a year,’ said Scott Braden, a member of the Rocky Mountain RAC who is a wilderness and public lands advocate at Conservation Colorado. ‘Secretary Zinke has said that local input is important for BLM to consider, and yet these councils, which provide just such input, have been sidelined.’

“In at least two instances,” The Post adds, “Zinke has disbanded existing advisory bodies — The Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and The Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science. He replaced the first one with The Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council, which just started soliciting nominations Jan. 9. It will place a heavier emphasis on sport shooting while promoting hunters’ and fishermen’s access to public lands.”

Twentieth century French philosopher and Nobel laureate Henri Bergson once said, “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”

Based on his actions thus far, Zinke does too much of one and not enough of the other. Then again, he’s just following the example of his boss.


  1. Sir Jim: I suggest you brush up a bit on Secretary Zinke’s past accomplishments before you throw the tar brush. Most men cannot even become a Navy Seal, much less endure missions for 20 years.

    Most men or women (except Nancy and Maxine) rarely become Congresspeople, and unless you are familiar as I am with the state of our National Parks over the past 40 years (Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton) calm down. This is one way of DRAINING THE SWAMP of hangers-on regardless of party from years of the gravy-train goodies that come from being on “THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE.” A good gig, but hey, there’s a new sheriff in town.

    Get used to it you Coastal people.

    1. The fact that Zinke was a Navy Seal, in my opinion, has nothing to do with his qualifications for this post. I will be the first to shake his hand and say “Thank you for your service.” However, your comment to Jim does not make sense to me, though all life’s experiences do play a small part.

      That being said, “draining the swamp” to me means cutting waste, and I agree with that. Going back 100 years and not protecting the environment will lead to smog over our cities and trash in our rivers. Do you remember that? I do. We should be encouraging the federal and state governments to protect our lands, not reduce those protections. I enjoy swimming and hiking in nature, I grew up in a rural state. I would love for my grandchildren to enjoy that too.

      Yes, we should “drain the swamp” by cutting waste which will allow us to expand the institutions doing phenomenal work, like the Department of the Interior. That’s what makes America great.

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