Yes, Hunters Should Serve on Trump’s Wildlife Council

The outrage over the IWCC’s pro-hunting members is misplaced thanks to anti-hunters and preservationists.

There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding the selection of hunters to serve on the Department of Interior’s newly-formed International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). The council was established last November to be under the purview of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Council was created with the following goals in mind: to increase “public awareness domestically regarding the conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.” Moreover, members of the IWCC will advise Interior Secretary Zinke “on the benefits international hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs, and other ways in which international hunting benefits human populations in these areas.” More goals are listed here.

Prominent members of this newly established council include Safari Club International (SCI) president Paul Babaz, professional bowhunter Cameron Hanes, lobbyist and NRA director of hunting Erica Rhoad, Congressional Sportsman Foundation vice president Gary Kania, former Congressman Bill Brewster (D-OK), and others. Two non-hunters who’ll serve on the IWCC include former Atlanta zoo director and co-author of “A Contract with the Earth” (with Newt Gingrich) Terry Maple and zoo/wildlife veterinarian professor Jenifer Chatfield. All council members will serve three-year terms.

The council won’t compensate its members, but will have a budget of $250,000 in taxpayer funds to be disbursed for “travel expenses, staff time and other costs.”

Following the establishment of this council, various so-called conservation groups railed against the IWCC. One group, the Africa Wildlife Foundation, issued this troubling statement objecting to the council’s creation citing the presence of trophy hunters.

The Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDF) falsely suggested the IWCC exists to exclusively promote “the killing of more imperiled species, like elephants and lions, for sport.” (Leo DiCaprio is one of their Board of Trustees, so take their statement with a grain of salt.)

The Humane Society called the IWCC a “trophy hunting trade association masquerading as a public panel.” This is the same Humane Society that deliberately deceives its donors into thinking they are supporting animal welfare, when in fact, the opposite is true.

To add insult to injury, these various so-called conservation groups either receive huge financial backing from Democrats or oppose hunting altogether. They aren’t exactly helping their cause with this fierce opposition to the IWCC.

The Associated Press, for example, had to issue a correction regarding one appointee to the council. It reads as follows:

In a March 15 story about a new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing body parts of certain animals killed in Africa, The Associated Press reported erroneously that appointee Olivia Opre had previously killed a black rhino and was a Miss America contestant. Opre says she shot a white rhino with a non-lethal tranquilizer dart, but has not killed a black rhino, and says she competed in the Mrs. America pageant, not the Miss America pageant.

Here’s council member Paul Babaz’s account of the IWCC’s first meeting from March 16th, which he describes in the following Facebook post:

Paul Babaz

Hunting—including “trophy hunting”— is grossly misunderstood by those in media, government, and entertainment. The early conservation movement established by Theodore Roosevelt and other American conservationists has sadly been co-opted by radical environmentalist groups who generally refuse to meet anglers and hunters at the table to discuss ways to work together. Granted there are few exceptions, but our way of life is generally met with hostility by those involved in the aforementioned groups.

Arguably, the attacks on hunting and the hunting lifestyle have led many Americans to forgo or abandon hunting altogether, which is a big concern for those of us involved in the outdoor industry. The loss of two million hunters since 2011 is alarming, which is why this council and a similar council — Council for Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation — were created. It’s also why R3—Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation—initiatives have been developed to directly address the issue of participation in hunting and shooting sports.

Hunting and shooting sports bolster the economy, which then bolsters wildlife

As recent as February 2018, outdoor recreation—including fishing and hunting activities—accounted for $373 billion (or two percent of the GDP) of the American economy.

For example, hunting and shooting sports activities pump back billions into the economy each year through the Pittman-Robertson Act (hopefully to be modernized by passing HR 2591). Here are the conditions for which PR funds are dispersed:

The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to cooperate with the States, through their respective State fish and game departments, in wildlife- restoration projects as hereinafter in this chapter set forth; but no money apportioned under this chapter to any State shall be expended therein until its legislature, or other State agency authorized by the State constitution to make laws governing the conservation of wildlife, shall have assented to the provision of this chapter and shall have passed laws for the conservation of wildlife which shall include a prohibition against the diversion of license fees paid by hunters for any other purpose than the administration of said State fish and game department, except that, until the final adjournment of the first regular session of the legislature held after September 2, 1937, the assent of the Governor of the State shall be sufficient. The Secretary of the Interior and the State fish and game department of each State accepting the benefits of this chapter, shall agree upon the wildlife-restoration projects to be aided in such State under the terms of this chapter and all projects shall conform to the standards fixed by the Secretary of the Interior.

Since the introduction of this law, an 11 percent excise tax is imposed on purchases related to licenses, firearms, and ammunition to be circled back to the Department of Interior. Then the DOI allocates funds to pay for state-sponsored wildlife restoration projects.

As the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) notes, wildlife like wild turkey, white-tailed deer, wood duck, and black bear were able to repopulate “through wildlife restoration projects mostly paid for through Pittman-Robertson and state hunting license funds.” Groups like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and a whole host of other conservation groups directly support sustainable efforts to bolster wildlife all the while supporting legal hunting. To deny their contributions to wildlife and habitat restoration efforts is an affront to true conservation efforts—a fact many of these so-called conservation groups deny.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), firearms and ammunition industry pumped back $51.3 billion into the economy in 2016. ​

The same applies when hunters and anglers pay for trips abroad. While the species usually entailed are more exotic and controversial different conditions, circumstances, and environmental factors impact locals differently than they do in the United States. If Americans support local African economies and help combat poaching efforts, shouldn’t the other conservation groups applaud their efforts? Sadly, they won’t.

Hunting as conservation here and abroad.

The IWCC argues the principles established by the North American Conservation Model in America can similarly be applied in Africa.

The North American Conservation Model has led to “the form, function, and successes of wildlife conservation and management” in the United States and Canada. It boasts the following tenets:

1. Wildlife resources are a public trust*. Challenges include (1) inappropriate claims of ownership of wildlife; (2) unregulated commercial sale of live wildlife; (3) prohibitions or unreasonable restrictions on access to and use of wildlife; and (4) a value system endorsing an animal-rights doctrine and consequently antithetical to the premise of public ownership of wildlife.​*

2. Markets for game are eliminated*. Commercial trade exists for reptiles, amphibians, and fish. In addition, some game species are actively traded. A robust market for access to wildlife occurring across the country exists in the form of leases, reserved permits, and shooting preserves.*

3. Allocation of wildlife is by law*. Application and enforcement of laws to all taxa are inconsistent. Although state authority over the allocation of the take of resident game species is well defined, county, local, or housing development ordinances may effectively supersede state authority. Decisions on land use, even on public lands, indirectly impact allocation of wildlife due to land use changes associated with land development.*

4. Wildlife can be killed only for a legitimate purpose*. Take of certain species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians does not correspond to traditionally accepted notions of legitimate use.*

5. Wildlife is considered an international resource. Many positive agreements and cooperative efforts have been established among the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and other nations for conserving wildlife. Many more species need consideration. Restrictive permitting procedures, although designed to protect wildlife resources, inhibit trans-border collaborations. Construction of a wall to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico to the U.S. will have negative effects on trans-border wildlife movements and interactions.

6. Science is the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy*. Wildlife management appears to be increasingly politicized. The rapid turnover rate of state agency directors, the makeup of boards and commissions, the organizational structure of some agencies, and examples of politics meddling in science have challenged the science foundation.*

7. Democracy of hunting is standard*. Reduction in, and access to, huntable lands compromise the principle of egalitarianism in hunting opportunity. Restrictive firearms legislation can act as a barrier hindering participation.*

Without a doubt, the discussion of “trophy hunting” in Africa can cause great anger and confusion among Americans. As I wrote before here at The Resurgent, what constitutes a “trophy” varies from hunter to hunter. Moreover, conversations about conservation gloss over hunting’s big impact on it—due to the influence of preservationist attitudes inset in the conservation movement. Additionally, Africa boasts different threats and challenges from poaching, threats, and corrupt governments, which is why controlled legal hunts of certain “Big Five” animals happen despite its controversial nature.

For example, the “Trophy” filmmakers conceded in their film that controlled trophy hunting in Africa will led to a regeneration of threatened species. Even Huffington Post writer and anti-hunter Yashar Ali conceded that the legal, controlled killing of elephants in Africa is more preferable to poachers exterminating elephants en masse.

Yashar Ali 🐘

@yashar

I’m glad this CNN film highlighted the fact that 1,000 elephants are killed legally by hunters every year vs 30,000 illegally by poachers. I think in the past couple years people have been focused on hunters as opposed to the poachers who cause much more damage.

168 people are talking about this

Here’s a great account on the nuanced nature of trophy hunting in Africa from Slate’s Neel V. Patel:

It’s understandable to find the practice of hunting elephants for sport repulsive. It’s also understandable to be suspicious of this change given everything happening in politics right now. But these loud missives don’t do justice to the nuanced factors that go into developing and implementing conservation efforts. When you considered the facts on the ground, lifting restrictions on elephant trophy bans isn’t necessarily a bad idea. In fact, it could be a good idea.

It’s true that the opening of trophy imports will probably encourage more legal hunting. That’s actually the point. Hunting is not an inherently bad thing for animal conservation. When hunting is legal and well-regulated, it can actually help keep animal populations in check and prevent them from overwhelming an ecosystem. That’s precisely why hunting white-tailed deer is encouraged during hunting season in much of the U.S.

Now, African elephant populations don’t resemble white-tailed deer in North America. Deer are much more populous, and faster to reproduce. But it’s important to note that elephant populations are not in the dire straits they once were. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the African elephant species as “vulnerable,” not endangered, meaning population numbers or habitat range are less than satisfactory but can improve if measures are taken. One of those measures could be controlled hunting that shaves off individual numbers in the short term to create a bigger population growth in the long term.

Hunters, much like other conservationists, deserve to serve on the IWCC. Their efforts directly support wildlife and habitat restoration efforts. What can be said for groups like NRDC, Sierra Club, Humane Society, and others? Not much. ​They talk a big talk, but don’t walk the walk with respect to conservation.

We will continue to document developments from the IWCC and explore the nuances of “trophy hunting” here and aboard while countering misinformation related to hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. Stay tuned.

True Conservation at Work: Interior Plans Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on Public, Private Lands

Keeping in line with his promise to promote true conservation at Department of Interior, Secretary Ryan Zinke announced today that his department plans to continue expanding fishing and hunting opportunities on public lands. Citing the depreciation of 2.2 million hunters in the new USFWS study, Zinke believes this move — along with partnerships with private land owners — will help address the decline in hunting numbers, instead, by strengthening hunting participation in the U.S.

This move — known as Secretarial Order 3356— aims to “increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, including opportunities to hunt and fish” and “improve the management of game species and their habitats for this generation and beyond.”

“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” said Secretary Zinke in the official DOI press release. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands. As someone who grew up hunting and fishing on our public lands – packing bologna sandwiches and heading out at 4AM with my dad – I know how important it is to expand access to public lands for future generations. Some of my best memories are hunting deer or reeling in rainbow trout back home in Montana, and I think every American should be able to have that experience.

“Today’s Secretarial Order is the latest example of how the Trump Administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands. This means finding ways to expand hunting and fishing on public lands, improving access, and taking necessary actions to facilitate the enjoyment of these time-honored activities by any member of our society.”

Here’s what Secretarial Order 3356 will entail once it goes into effect:

  • Within 120 days produce a plan to expand access for hunting and fishing on BLM, USFWS and NPS land.
  • Amend national monument management plans to ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.
  • Expand educational outreach programs for underrepresented communities such as veterans, minorities, and youth.
  • In a manner that respects the rights and privacy of the owners of non-public lands, identify lands within their purview where access to Department lands, particularly access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other forms of outdoor recreation, is currently limited (including areas of Department land that may be impractical or effectively impossible to access via public roads or trails under current conditions, but where there may be an opportunity to gain access through an easement, right-of-way, or acquisition), and provide a report detailing such lands to the Deputy Secretary.
  • Within 365 days, cooperate, coordinate, create, make available, and continuously update online a single “one stop” Department site database of available opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on Department lands.
  • Improve wildlife management through collaboration with state, Tribal,​ territorial, and conservation partners.

Although he was confirmed in March, Zinke has done an extensive amount of work to bring accountability to his department. From decriminalizing lead usage for hunting and fishing on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated lands to improving outdoor access on public lands, the former Montana congressman is proving to be a good steward of the environment by living the sportsman’s creed. He recently concluded his review of national monuments and offered some reasonable recommendations for the Antiquities Act of 1906.

I hope DOI and similar partners also take a look at R3 programs, which seek to recruit, retain, and reactivate participation in fishing, hunting, and the shooting sports.

It’s undeniable that fishing and hunting promote true conservation. Both industries pump back billions into the economy, help kids become proactive members of society, and make this country great. Those who seek to deprive Americans of opportunities to hunt and fish are doing a disservice to this country and to true conservation efforts.

We’ll continue to log Zinke’s efforts here at The Resurgent. Stay tuned.

101.6M People Immersed in Fishing, Hunting, or Wildlife Activities Last Year

The Department of Interior has cited a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report finding 101.6 million people–or 40 percent of the population 16 years and older–participated in hunting, fishing, and wildlife activities last year.

“This report absolutely underscores the need to increase public access to public lands across the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a press release. “Hunting and fishing are a part of the American heritage. As a kid who grew up hunting and fishing on public lands who later took my own kids out on the same land, I know how important it is to expand access for future generations. Many folks east of the Mississippi River rely on friends with large acreages or pay high rates for hunting and fishing clubs. This makes access to wildlife refuges and other public lands more important.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is under the purview of the Department of Interior. The survey, DOI reports, notes increases in wildlife watching and fishing, but some moderate declines in hunting participation nationally. The study also reveals these outdoor activities have contributed $156 billion back into the economy. These studies are conducted roughly every five years. Here’s more from their findings:

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching—observing and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities surged 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose sharply—28 percent—between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion. Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011, from 68.6 million in 2011 to 81.1 million participants in 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers: 5 percent increase from 2011 to 2016, from 22.5 million to 23 million participants.

More Americans also went fishing. The report indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016. The greatest increases in participation—10 percent—were seen in the Great Lakes area. Total expenditures by anglers nationwide rose 2 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $45 billion to $46.1 billion.

Hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants, but still remained strong at 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

Many outdoor industry leaders also commented on the USFWS’s findings:

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation 

“No one does more for our wildlife and or wild places than hunters. Any decline in hunting numbers, real or perceived, is of great concern since hunting provides the lion’s share of funding for nationwide conservation work thanks to excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment that garner more than $1.6 annually,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The RMEF remains committed to growing and ensuring the future of our hunting heritage as well as elk, other wildlife and their habitat.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Hunters and anglers form the foundation of wildlife conservation in the United States, consistently generating more funding for habitat and wildlife management than any other source,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “Industry, federal, and state fish and wildlife agency initiatives that focus on hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation are crucial to sustaining these conservation dollars and ensuring the next generation of wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity, access, and awareness to pursue these time-honored American traditions.”

Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports

“I praise Secretary Zinke for his support of hunting and land access. The hunting and shooting sports community is grateful for an Administration that recognizes the economic, recreational, and traditional values of hunting and target shooting,” said John Frampton, President and CEO of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports. “Although the numbers of hunters have declined, we are optimistic they will rebound as a result of Secretary Zinke’s leadership, state wildlife agencies, non-government organizations, and industries working together. Hunting in this country is not only part of our national heritage, it is an important to our country’s economy, as indicated by the expenditures in the survey.”

Despite lower participation hunting numbers, outdoor industry leaders are optimistic Zinke’s leadership will help reverse course. The Interior Secretary has already championed sportsmen’s rights in his short tenure thus far. He rescinded the ban on lead ammo and tackle after getting sworn into office. Last month, he expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on 10 various national wildlife refuges across the country. Despite resistance from those claiming to be champions of sportsmen’s rights, Zinke has been proving his critics wrong by advancing pro-fishing and pro-hunting policies.

Sportsmen should be optimistic about more access to the outdoors with Secretary Zinke at the helms of the Department of Interior. We will continue to catalogue all developments from Interior here at The Resurgent.

 

New Secretarial Order To Streamline Federal Onshore Oil & Gas Exploration

Secretary Ryan Zinke and his department are going full-throttle on delivering a robust energy policy for oil and gas exploration.

Yesterday, the department announced its plans with Secretarial Order 3354 to ease permit backlogs and delays–specifically to improve upon existing permit processes on federal lands for onshore drilling and to determine solutions to allow access on more federal lands for mineral development.

Since January 31, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management has been sitting on 2,802 Applications for Permit to Drill (APD). The current statute in place requires DOI and BLM to process APD reviews within 30 days. Last year, the process time in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 averaged a whopping 257 days. (This goes to show how virulently anti-energy the Obama administration was.)

In the official DOI press release, Secretary Zinke elaborated on his latest secretorial order:

“Oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America but it is hard to envision increased investment on federal lands when a federal permit can take the better part of a year or more in some cases. This is why I’m directing the BLM to conduct quarterly lease sales and address these permitting issues. We are also looking at opportunities to bring support to our front line offices who are facing the brunt of this workload.” said Secretary Zinke. “This is just good government and will further support the President’s goal of American energy dominance.”

“The Department of the Interior will be a better neighbor in the new Trump Administration,” Zinke added. “As is outlined in this order, we will look at ways to improve the process and make sure regulations serve their intended purpose rather than create a mountain of useless paperwork. By streamlining approvals of responsible energy development on federal land, and actually holding lease sales, we will generate revenue for local communities and the Treasury to fund the things we all value like National Parks, infrastructure and education.”

The Department of Interior has also tackled offshore oil and gas exploration reform by announcing in April their intention to pursue a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). On June 29th, a 45-day period for public input was announced. In late May, Zinke’s department announced plans to jumpstart energy exploration in Alaska.

This latest move to pursue energy independence should be celebrated. It doesn’t mean public lands will be wholly destroyed or “privatized” for the highest bidder. Land management can be sustainable–especially if pursued in the true conservationist manner. The safe and ethical exploration of natural resources is the American way.

Stay tuned for more Department of Interior developments here at The Resurgent.

Interior Department is Correct: Antiquities Act Should be Modernized

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced his review of national monument designations created since January 1, 1996, yesterday –including those national monuments designated under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

Zinke said President Trump authorized him to review any national monument created since this date, which spans at least 100,000 acres. The Interior Secretary says the goal of this review is to “to make sure the people have a voice” over lands that have the highest level of protection from the federal government. The review is expected to be conducted over the course of 45 days.

This move comes after the last administration’s controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument last December in Utah, which was unanimously opposed by all Republican lawmakers–both federal and local–in the state. Here were Senator Mike Lee’s thoughts on this controversial designation of Bears Ears National Monument from December:

 

During a White House press briefing, Zinke said “The 45-day review is pretty much centered on Bears Ears because that is the most current one.” The report is expected to be completed within 120 days, he said.

Zinke added, “It restores the trust between local communities and Washington.” The review of the two dozen or so monuments aims “to give Americans a voice and make sure their voices are heard,” he said.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law of its kind to make any designation of national monuments with regards to historic preservation policy. Regardless of your take on public lands, which is very convoluted and multifaceted, one thing is for certain: this law needs to be overhauled and modernized. Here’s the gist of it:

Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fied unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.

Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.

Here’s how social media weighed in on this move:

Zinke believes this review of the Antiquities Act is necessary as his predecessors at Interior stretched it too far to prevent development on millions of acres near land and sea. He believes the law was also abused to cut off access to public lands to anglers, hunters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“By and large, the Antiquities Act and the monuments that we’ve protected have done a great service to the public,” he said, although Western state residents “would probably say it’s abused. My position is, I’m going to be looking into it and evaluating it on a legal basis.”

“I think the concern I have and the president has is when a monument is designated, the community should have a voice,” Zinke added. “I am not going to predispose what any outcome will be. I am going to talk to congressional delegations as I review the list, talk to governors, stakeholders involved and formulate recommendations that are appropriate.”

Why shouldn’t citizens have a say over the designation of national monuments in their backyards? Big government coming in and usurping lands with minimal to no public input–which they ultimately forbid hunting, fishing, and hiking on–should anger true conservationists. How can lands be public if the public is refused a voice ? Zinke recognizes the problem with preservation and has instead ushered in a return to true conservation.

Before the fear mongering starts to set in, let’s see what Secretary Ryan Zinke comes up with. He’s not going to sell off all public lands for oil and gas exploration. He’s not going to abuse his privileges. He’s actually offering to be transparent–a key facet absent in his predecessors. To keep public lands truly public, allowing input from those who’ll be impacted by such national monument designations is important. I welcome the improvement and modernization of the Antiquities Act of 1906 and hope you will too.

 

President Trump Donates Quarter of His Salary to National Park Service

President Donald Trump pledged to donate his salary to charity and has selected the National Park Service as a recipient of  $78,333–a quarter of the presidential salary he declared to take.

The National Park Service is under the purview of the Department of Interior, which is headed up by former Montana Congressman and Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke.

“President Trump is dedicated to our veterans, our public lands, and keeping his promises, and by donating his salary to the National Park Service to repair our historic battlefields proves his commitment,” Secretary Zinke said in a statement. “These historic places tell the story of conflicts that helped shape our country’s history, and they also honor the many men and women who have given their lives in service of this great nation. I’m honored to help the president carry out his love and appreciation for our warriors and land.”

These funds will go to the direct maintenance of historical national battlefields.

Shortly after he was elected in November, Trump appeared on 60 Minutes and hinted he wouldn’t take a presidential salary. Article 2, Section 1, Clause 7–also known as the “Emoluments Clause” –is laid out below:

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

This is a bold move in the right direction. What say you?

Safe Oil Exploration is Making a Comeback in the U.S.

New Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is wasting no time implementing Trump’s agenda at his respective department. He announced yesterday that his department will offer 73 million acres in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration development–the opposite of what his predecessor Sally Jewell did.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the United States energy independent,” Secretary Zinke said in a statement. “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states, and local communities, to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The proposed Gulf of Mexico lease sale – Proposed Lease Sale 249- includes  Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Here’s more from Interior:

Proposed Lease Sale 249, scheduled to be livestreamed from New Orleans, will be the first offshore sale under the new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 (Five Year Program). Under this new program, ten region-wide lease sales are scheduled for the Gulf, where the resource potential and industry interest are high, and oil and gas infrastructure is well established. Two Gulf lease sales will be held each year and include all available blocks in the combined Western, Central, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico Planning Areas.

The sale would include “all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” the Department of Interior press release notes. Per Department of Interior estimates, they anticipate 0.211 to 1.118 billion barrels of oil from 0.547 to 4.424 trillion cubic feet of gas developed when this region-wide lease sale goes live.

This is a bold contrast to the previous administration, which was keen to banning offshore drilling and gas exploration altogether. Although news outlets suggest this Interior department is replicating a similar action from the last administration, Zinke  is expected to challenge the bans on offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he testified before Congress in January, he affirmed his support for offshore drilling to reduce reliance on foreign oil.

He said, “I can guarantee you it is better to produce energy domestically under reasonable regulation than overseas with no regulation … We need an economy.”

The Obama administration placed moratorium on any new opportunities for offshore drilling, which has had negative ramifications on the economy and job growth. On November 8, 2011, the Obama administration placed a five-year moratorium prohibiting any new offshore drilling by only permitting lease sales to occur on areas already open to oil and gas exploration. This five-year plan excluded the majority of Alaska and made the entire Pacific and Atlantic Coasts off-limits to offshore drilling and gas exploration–thus undermining efforts to stimulate job growth.

Moreover, former President Obama used the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act last December to protect large areas in the Arctic Ocean and string of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean which stretch from Massachusetts south to Virginia. The latter move supplemented a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic–which deliberately made much of the eastern seaboard off-limits to oil exploration. This moratorium is set to expire this year.

The Department of Interior is responsible for overseeing our nation’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, among many things. Zinke has committed to not only protecting wildlife and public lands, but to also overseeing the safe exploration of natural resources. This is a good first step to restoring sanity in this department.

Let’s hope the economy and environment can begin to work in sync with one another.

 

 

 

 

New Interior Secretary Zinke is Off to Good Start

Former Montana Congressman and Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of Interior last week. Not only does his selection fare well for the department, it’s quite historic. He’s the first Montanan to serve in the post.

Zinke marked his first day, March 2nd, on the job by riding a horse alongside nine U.S. Park Police to his new office. Below are some tweets commemorating the occasion:

He even boldly declared that he’ll make his department the best governmental department.

Also on his first day at the Department of Interior, Zinke signed two secretarial order to expanding access to public lands and increase hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities on public lands –especially to undue Order 219, the last-mine ban on lead tackle and ammunition on U.S. Fish & Wildlife public lands.

“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy. Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Zinke in a press release. “Over the past eight years however, hunting, and recreation enthusiasts have seen trails closed and dramatic decreases in access to public lands across the board. It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite. This package of secretarial orders will expand access for outdoor enthusiasts and also make sure the community’s voice is heard.”

Here’s more on the secretarial orders:

Secretarial Order No. 3346 overturns the recent ban of lead ammunition and fish tackle used on Fish and Wildlife Service lands, waters, and facilities. The order highlights the need for additional review and consultation with local stakeholders.

Secretarial Order No. 3347 advances conservation stewardship, improves game and habitat management, and increases outdoor recreation opportunities by directing bureaus and agencies to immediately identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded. The order also requests input from the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to provide recommendations on enhancing and expanding access on public lands and improving habitat for fish and wildlife.

Zinke was joined by some of leaders of the country’s foremost hunting and fishing groups when he signed these secretarial orders:

Zinke is expected to restore balance between economic development and preservation of nature to his department. What a refreshing start! We’ll be watching what goes on and wish Zinke success.