Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Wednesday he won’t recommend any changes to the Upper Missouri River Breaks. It’s one of 27 national monuments under review by the secretary, who is now the target of a new ad campaign launched by a Montana-based sportsmen’s group.
They’re worried Zinke’s review of other national monuments could put a damper on hunting and fishing in public lands and water.
“Make no mistake, Zinke’s national monument review threatens our heritage and thousands of jobs," Land Tawney, CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, says in an ad. "Mr. Secretary, don’t turn your back on Roosevelt now.”
The national sportsmen’s group is launching a seven-figure radio, TV and web campaign. Tawney says they want the Interior Department to keep national monuments intact, but the rhetoric that's coming out of Washington D.C. has not been good.
"So we’re trying to give him the space to do the right thing and we’re expecting he do so,” Tawney says.
The campaign comes as a little bit of a surprise because Backcountry Hunters and Anglers supported Zinke’s nomination to become Interior Secretary late last year.
“Do I regret it? No," Tawney says. "I think that Mr. Zinke comes from Montana, he grew up hunting and fishing and I think he cares about public lands. We hope he makes the right decision.”
Later this month, Secretary Zinke will finish deciding whether to shrink, abolish or keep intact 27 national monuments across the country. The Trump administration has been pushing for increased energy development on public lands, including those protected as monuments. According to a progressive organization, Secretary Zinke has filled his cabinet with at least 21 employees from resource-extractive backgrounds.
Tawney says hunting and fishing can happen alongside responsible energy development, as long as it's cleaned up.
“I think with unfettered oil and gas development, fish and wildlife and the hunting opportunities and fishing opportunities that go along with that, will definitely lose,” he says.
President Trump ordered the review of some national monuments in April. While the Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana was spared, Zinke suggested shrinking the controversial Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah. It was designated by former president Barack Obama late last year.
Attempts to reach Secretary Zinke for comment by deadline were unsuccessful.