Zinke in the Hot Seat Over Trump’s Move to Rescind National Monuments

President Trump has been burning up the ink issuing executive orders since he can’t seem to get anything through Congress. In one of his latest, he has directed the Department of Interior to review all national monument designations made since 1996 to determine if they should be “rescinded, modified or resized.” No president has ever removed national monuments designated by previous presidents, nor does the Antiquities Act provide authority to do so. But Trump’s unprecedented order puts Montana’s Ryan Zinke, now secretary of the Interior, in a very hot seat indeed.

Zinke grew up in Whitefish with Glacier National Park as his backyard. After receiving the directive from Trump, he told the Guardian’s reporters that “no one loves our public lands more than me. I’m a lifetime supporter and admirer of Teddy Roosevelt and the president is the same.” While that sounds good, it’s very troubling that Zinke went on to add: “This executive order is long overdue.”

Surely Secretary Zinke understands that it was Teddy Roosevelt who signed the Antiquities Act of 1906 into law and designated Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, the Petrified Forest in Arizona and 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon as national monuments.

Yet, Trump called the national monuments a “massive federal land grab… and it’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place.”

That doesn’t sound like Teddy Roosevelt, who actually said: “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets that it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.” As for “freeing it up” one has to wonder for whom Trump plans on freeing it – and to what purposes it would be put once “freed.”

Zinke’s concern, as told to the Guardian’s reporters, is that: “In some cases national monuments have resulted in the loss of jobs, reduced wages and loss of public access. We feel the public, the people the monuments affect, should be considered and given a meaningful voice.” Perhaps Zinke has forgotten that his beloved Glacier National Park would never exist had it been up to local residents, who were totally opposed to its creation.

Yet, thanks in no small part to Utah’s nutty congressional delegation, Obama’s designation of the Bear’s Ears National Monument has been painted as some kind of supreme travesty because it impacted some local residents. Mind you, many of these locals, as has been exhaustively documented by the misadventures of the Bundy clan, not only view, use and abuse federal land as their own, but the Bundys in particular refused to pay over a million bucks they owe on federal grazing leases.

What neither Zinke nor Trump seem to take into account is the incredibly positive economic impact that national monuments, parks and federal lands produce. According to a new study just released by the Outdoor Industries Association, the combined value of all outdoor sport industries is approximately $887 billion, while producing 7.6 million jobs, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. In comparison, the study says the pharmaceuticals industry is valued at $466 billion while the gas and fuels industry comes in at $304 billion.

Rest assured, Secretary Zinke, your fellow Montanans will be watching closely. And if you meant what you said about “the people the monuments affect should be considered and given a meaningful voice,” it had better include the 325 million Americans who own, use and treasure our national monuments.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita