Public Lands Candidates Win Races Big And Small In Mountain West

Nov 8, 2018

Public lands advocates across the Mountain West are calling Tuesday's midterm election a big win for conservation. Several races in the region favored candidates with strong public lands platforms.

That included the governor's race in Colorado, where Democrat Jared Polis won.

Aaron Weiss is with the environmental group Center for Western Priorities. He said Polis tied his opponent to what he called the anti-public lands policies of Secretary Ryan Zinke.

"I can't ever recall a time when a statewide race has used a cabinet secretary as an albatross around the neck of an opponent," said Weiss.

Over in Utah, two Native Americans now sit on the San Juan County Commission. Weiss said that makes for a majority in support of the original boundaries for Bears Ears National Monument.

"It will be very interesting to see once that new county commission, what happens to the county's position in regards to lawsuits over Bears Ears and President Trump's attempts to shrink the boundaries there," said Weiss.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva has been a vocal critic of Zinke. And Weiss said with a democratic majority in the House, Grijalva will now act as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"The fact that Raúl Grijalva will be getting subpoena power come January is huge," said Weiss. "Because we have seen over and over again for the last two years, Secretary Zinke and Deputy Secretary Bernhardt stonewall investigations.

A survey done by the Center for Western Priorities earlier this year, found voters in our region want a balanced approach to managing public lands for recreation and energy development.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.