Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Stakeholders fume over Zinke’s shortened Nevada monuments visit

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who said Sunday he would like his federal agency to be known as the “happy department,” left some unhappy campers in the wake of his shortened trip to Nevada to review its two newest national monuments. Among those chafed by the last-minute cancellation of promised meetings with local stakeholders were local Paiute tribes and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. “We have written, we have called (for him) to … meet with the opponents, meet with the tribes, meet with elected officials to hear the whole story,” she said Monday at a news conference in Las Vegas. “Well, that changed at the last minute. He couldn’t stay because he had some kind of Cabinet meeting with whoever is chief of staff this week … which is ridiculous. He could have come a day earlier.” Zinke arrived Sunday morning for what was to have been a two-day visit to tour the Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments, part of his review of 22 national monuments and five marine national monuments created by presidential decree since Jan. 1, 1996, to determine whether the designations should be scaled back or eliminated. He did get a rapid-fire aerial tour of both monuments, which included jaunts on the ground to see some of their wonders. But his staff canceled meetings with local Paiute tribes, Titus and other opponents of changing the monuments’ boundaries, saying he had been summoned to Washington for a Cabinet meeting Monday with President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly. Zinke met with local officials during a helicopter stop at Whitney Pocket in Gold Butte and also with a few stakeholders, including some representative of the Friends of Gold Butte conservation group and officials involved in artist Michael Heiser’s “City” project in Lincoln County...more

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