Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Despite the government shutdown, there's been a handover at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Former Secretary Ryan Zinke is out, deputy secretary David Bernhardt is in, with a continuance of the Trump Administration policy of energy dominance.

KUER's Diane Maggipinto spoke with Nate Hegyi of KUER's Mountain West News Bureau to sort it out, starting with Zinke's wins and losses.

Several Mountain West Republicans are reportedly on the short list to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump announced his imminent departure over the weekend.

Public record requests have played a major role in spurring multiple ethics investigations into U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the subject of at least three open federal investigations. But on the right-wing talk show Breitbart News Sunday, Zinke dismissed news of his imminent departure from the Trump administration.

Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

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.

Ryan Zinke's official United States Secretary of Interior portrait
Tami Heilemann / U.S. Dept of Interior

An escalating investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s actions has been referred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Washington Post and CNN both confirmed through anonymous sources that the Interior Department’s Inspector General has passed along an inquiry. According to an analysis by the Center for Western Priorities, Zinke is facing 18 investigations overall. Only one investigation has reached the DOJ level, though the topic isn’t yet known.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a staff directive making it more difficult for the public to obtain important documents - particularly ones related to the Endangered Species Act and decisions surrounding new listings. Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the controversy all started with a leaked memo.

Since taking power at the U.S. Interior Department last year, Secretary Ryan Zinke has been the subject of more than a dozen investigations by the DOI’s Office of Inspector General. Some are ongoing and the latest report was released Monday.

Mead Gruver/AP

Cheyenne lawyer Karen Budd-Falen has been tapped as Deputy Solicitor for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. She is well known for representing private property owners and local governments in disputes with federal land agencies.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing changes to sage grouse protections that would make it easier to develop — especially energy — on vast swaths of land where the chicken-like bird lives.

United States Department of the Interior

The Interior Department has released its final plan to rollback a rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas producers. This follows the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) move last week to weaken its own methane protections.

A leaked memo this week from the Interior Department shows Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to give states more clout over wildlife management on public lands, unless it conflicts with federal law.

 


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has released more details about his plan to reorganize the Department of Interior. The plan could have big impacts for public lands in the west.

 


Some Steamboat Springs, Colorado residents are welcoming the Interior Department Secretary with a protest Friday evening.  Ryan Zinke is the keynote speaker at the Steamboat Institute’s annual ‘Freedom Conference,’ a private event.

The Interior Department is once again facing change in agency leadership. The acting head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stepped down. 

Mule deer photo captured by the Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management

An iconic big game migration corridor in western Wyoming will avoid oil and gas development for the time being. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke and Governor Matt Mead announced Tuesday the deferral of thousands of leases within the area and stipulations for some development. 

Supt. Vela describes the significance of the NPS badge to a 4th grade student from Donald Stalker Elementary before awarding a Jr. Ranger badge to her at the completion of an "Every Kid in a Park" visit, sponsored by Grand Teton Lodge Co. (May, 2015)
National Park Service

The superintendent of Grand Teton National Park is rumored to be President Trump’s nominee for the National Park Service (NPS). The position has been left unfilled for 18 months. David Vela has been with the NPS on and off for 37 years. He’s worked at several historic sites, coordinated operations in Texas, and oversaw the NPS southeast region, covering 66 parks.

A federal watchdog group is looking into U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s family land deal with an oil executive. But Zinke is calling the controversy fake news.

No Review Of Federal Coal Leasing Program, Following Court Case
Western Organization of Resource Councils

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided not to reassess the federal coal leasing program in a decision this week. 

Ranking U.S. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They want to know more about a land deal between Zinke’s family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas giant Halliburton.


A lot of people may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or that it’s in jeopardy.

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

The Trump administration is forcing the head of Yellowstone National Park out of his job. Dan Wenk said the National Park Service will replace him with a new superintendent this August.

Bighorn sheep
Magnus Kjaergaard via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Federal mineral leasing has increased under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. But it looks like he has a soft spot for bighorn sheep. Last week, the Department of Interior announced plans to renew a mineral withdrawal for the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep. A mineral withdrawal limits mining activity.

Department of the Interior

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here's how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming.  


National Parks Service

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's call to increase peak-season entrance fees at 17 popular national parks appears to be an unpopular idea. The overwhelming majority of submitted comments were strongly opposed to it. Now, the National Park Service is rethinking the plan.

Craigh Okraska - Wild Horses

The citizen board for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program will not meet this month as planned. The board gives advice to the BLM about how to manage the species on federal lands. The cancellation is frustrating for members who said the agency has given no response to its recommendations for two years.

Joe Riis

Wyoming and most of the Western landscape are part of big game animal migrations. Migratory herd of elk, deer, pronghorn, bison or bighorn sheep travel aggregated routes between their season ranges. Recently thanks to the research of scientists - including Arthur Middleton of the University of California, Berkeley, it has been found these corridors contain important stopover habitats where the animals rest and find food. So - if these routes are blocked it would stop these animals ability to recover after a winter season.

People watching Old Faithful erupt from geyser cone, Yellowstone National Park, 1948
R. Robinson / National Park Service Photo Gallery

Several illegal actions took place within national parks during the three-day government shutdown in January. In Zion National Park, a pregnant elk was poached, in Gettysburg National Military Park, a family brought in a metal detector and a drone — both of which are prohibited—and in Yellowstone, private snowmobilers went past the legal boundary to get close to the geyser Old Faithful.

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The Trump administration released its infrastructure plan and proposed budget for 2019. One conservation organization believes it will have brutal impacts on national parks.

President Trump and Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke’s, proposed budget requests a 16 percent cut from the Department of Interior’s 2018 budget. It also prioritizes energy and mineral development on public lands, cuts that Zinke calls unnecessary or duplicated programs, and has language detailing requirements for selling off public lands.

Bob Beck

Last year Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke infuriated Democrats when he announced intentions to cut about one third or about 4,000 people from his department. When Congress mostly rejected that plan in its funding bills, Zinke then focused more on a plan to reshape the department by moving key offices out West, to places like Denver. New Mexico Democratic Senator Tom Udall is dubious.

“It looks to me more like a dismantling rather than a reorganization, so I’m very worried about it.”

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