Whitefish Mayor, outdoor leaders call on Interior Secretary Zinke to support and protect public lands, national monuments

WHITEFISH, MT—The Center for Western Priorities launched its summer Monuments to America tour ahead of the Western Governors’ Association summer meeting.

At a press briefing in Depot Park, CWP’s executive director was joined by sportsmen and outdoor advocates from Montana to urge Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to protect America’s national monuments. Their message: eliminating or shrinking national monuments is a dangerous path that is both unprecedented and illegal.

Jennifer Rokala, executive director, Center for Western Priorities:

“Although Secretary Zinke likes to talk about following in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt, his actions so far make it clear his real role model is James Watt, the Interior Secretary who promised only to ‘drill more, mine more, and cut more’ across America’s public lands. We are here in Whitefish to call on him to protect the Upper Missouri River Breaks, along with all monuments in the West, and recognize the economic value these monuments have to all Americans.”

Mayor John Muhlfeld, Whitefish:

“Whitefish has seen the benefits of access to protected public lands firsthand. Working with our state, federal, and private partners, we have been able to conserve thousands of acres of working forests in and around Whitefish. These projects have secured the public’s access to recreation, protected our viewshed and municipal water supply, while at the same time allowing for sustainable forest management that keeps Montanans working in our forests and in our mills. As a friend of Ryan Zinke, I urge him to respect and protect America’s public lands, in Montana and across the country. Montana’s economic future depends on it.”

Ryan Busse, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers:

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you earn, national monuments and parks are open and accessible to all. Anyone can hunt or fish on America’s public lands—it’s what makes the West the best place in the world for sportsmen. Until now, every single president has upheld this core American value. We should be talking about how to preserve and enhance access to public lands, but instead we’re having a troubling conversation about undermining access and privatizing basic services like campgrounds.”

Larry Epstein, former Glacier County Attorney:

“Here in Montana, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is a tremendous asset that draws visitors from around the country and the world. Local businesses depend on the monument, which generates $10 million a year for Montana’s economy. An attack on even one national monument is an existential threat to Montana business.”

Broadcast and print-quality photos, video and audio of the press conference will be available this afternoon at bit.ly/monumentsmedia.

This spring, the Center for Western Priorities launched a multi-state ad campaign encouraging Americans and Congress to respect the heritage and history of America’s national monuments.

In July, CWP will embark on a six-state RV tour highlighting national monuments across the West that are threatened by President Trump’s executive order reviewing more than 20 years of monument protections. The tour will wrap up at the final Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. Outdoor Retailer is leaving Utah after 20 years in protest of Utah politicians’ anti-public lands agenda.


For more information, visit westernpriorities.org. To speak with an expert on public lands, contact Aaron Weiss at 720-369-9252 or aaron@westernpriorities.org.

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Written by on Monday, June 26th, 2017