Energy & Environment

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt: How Trump and Interior’s Ryan Zinke can protect public lands

Katahdin National Monument
Katahdin National Monument

Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. The monument, which is made up of 87,500 acres of privately donated land adjacent to Baxter State Park, is in jeopardy. It is one of many monuments under the microscope after President Trump mandated the review of all national monument designations made in last 30 years that are greater than 100,000 acres.

During his visit to the monument, Zinke indicated that he was “comfortable” with Katahdin retaining its national monument designation and that he did not believe that it would be necessary or appropriate to reduce the size of the Katahdin National Monument. 

Zinke is absolutely right on Katahdin. 

{mosads}I know a little something about Katahdin and the lands around it — my grandfather, Wallace Barron, was a Game Warden in northern Maine for 30 years. He had a profound respect and reverence for the land — something he passed down to his children and grandchildren. 


My grandfather was not only a committed conservationist, he was also — like me — a proud Republican.

As an outspoken supporter of Trump, I was disappointed in his decision to issue the unnecessary executive order mandating this review.

I was even more disappointed by Zinke’s initial recommendation that the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be reduced in size.

Trump’s executive order was done at the behest of a handful of members of Congress, who are unhappy with certain national monument designations, and a cabal of think tank elitists and corporate interests who don’t understand the value of public lands to average Americans.

This executive order was entirely unnecessary because the Antiquities Act, the legislation by which this and other National Monument designations were made, already provides a remedy if someone is unhappy with a designation – Congress can act.

Trump’s important legislative agenda should not be hijacked by a handful of members of Congress who are unable to get legislation passed in their own chambers.

As a candidate, Trump made it clear that he would not be beholden to the GOP establishment when it came to protecting our public lands. Trump drew comparisons to Teddy Roosevelt for his blunt style of speech and his commitment to protecting our public lands.

Unlike others in the Republican primary, Trump unequivocally said that he would oppose efforts by the think tankers and establishment elites in Washington to transfer public lands to the states and privatize our park system.

Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior — Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana — shares the president’s support for our public lands and is, in his own words, an “unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt.”

Trump owes nothing to the Republican establishment and the Washington elites who are pushing him to scale back national monuments, transfer federal public lands to the states and to privatize our national parks. Trump wasn’t elected with their help. Trump was elected by galvanizing working class and rural voters who, unlike the elites in Washington, often can’t afford exotic vacations or high-priced private hunting preserves. Instead, many working class Americans rely on access to federal public lands.

Trump ran for president promising to “Make America Great Again.” Nothing is more fundamental to American greatness than our lands. As the administration moves forward with its review of our national monuments, lets hope Zinke makes recommendations consistent with Trump’s commitment to protect public lands.

Christopher Barron is a conservative strategist and the President of Right Turn Strategies. 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags American people of German descent Antiquities Act Bears Ears National Monument Christopher Barron Department of Interior Donald Trump Environment Katahdin National Monument Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Ryan Zinke Ryan Zinke Trump United States Utah Wallace Barron

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