During Ryan Zinke’s nomination hearing in the Senate last January, he was adamant on one point:
“I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land," he replied to a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders.
But according to Brad Brooks with the Wilderness Society, Zinke’s actions since becoming Interior Secretary do not match his words. Along with 24 groups and companies, the organization has submitted a petition asking Zinke to make a rule acknowledging the department’s limited authority to sell or transfer public lands.
“The reason we have such a diverse group of people on this petition," says Brooks, "is that there is a very strong sense across the political divide that the threat is very real and tangible.”
The petition points to movement in legislatures across the West – including Idaho – where lawmakers have challenged federal ownership of public lands.
Brooks says he’s also heard from voters across the political spectrum upset by Zinke’s move to shrink Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which former President Obama established shortly before leaving office in January.
A request for comment from the Department of the Interior was not immediately returned.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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