Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has made no secrets about his disdain for America’s foundational conservation laws.

On the Endangered Species Act: “I would be happy to invalidate [it].”

On the Antiquities Act: “It is the most evil act ever invented.”

On the Land and Water Conservation Fund: it is a “slush fund” and we should instead “plow some money back into [the oil and gas industry] to make sure that it’s there.”

(See the bottom of this post for for a summary of each law and its importance to American conservation.)

Even though these positions are extremely unpopular with voters across the West and the American public, Congressman Bishop has built his political career proudly working to undermine national public lands and weakening or invalidating a slew of environmental laws.


Written by on Friday, November 10th, 2017

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Friday that President Trump had called him to announce his intent to dramatically shrink Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. It is hard to ignore the crystal clear messages sent by Trump’s administration this week — protecting Native American history is bad, Confederate monuments are good, and national parks are for rich people only.

The red rock landscape of Bears Ears National Monument is filled with tens of thousands of archaeological sites and is considered sacred to nearby Native American tribes, who asked President Obama to protect it after Congress failed to do so. The ruins, rock art, and artifacts in Bears Ears have long been threatened by looting and vandalism, threats which continue today.


Written by on Friday, October 27th, 2017

More than six months into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tenure at the Interior Department, we’re getting a clear picture of what a Zinke Doctrine looks like: serving oil and gas companies is a welcomed blessing, while serving the public and our parks is a burden.

Virtually every major decision that the secretary has made fits neatly into this scheme. His department is proactively gutting rules on the oil and gas industry, leasing vast swaths of national public lands, and slicing the rates oil and gas companies pay taxpayers. At the same time, Secretary Zinke is putting up barriers to conservation and hiking fees for the public to access parks and public lands.

Few weeks offer a more clear and cohesive summary of what the Zinke Doctrine looks like in practice.


Written by on Friday, October 27th, 2017

Not all poll questions are created equally and — unfortunately — sometimes pollsters tip the scales. That was certainly the case with a question posed by Dan Jones and Associates on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics in a recent poll about Bears Ears National Monument.

The question reads: The state of Utah has recommended shrinking the new Bears Ears National Monument from 1.3 million acres to 120,000 acres. Do you agree that Bears Ears is too big?

The question begins by leading respondents towards the conclusion that Bears Ears is large, citing that Utah’s elected officials want to see it diminished ten-fold. Then the question pivots away from whether respondents agree with the specific request from Utah officials, and instead asks vaguely, “Do you agree that Bears Ears is too big?”


Written by on Thursday, October 26th, 2017

When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched his attack on America’s national monuments this April, he insisted that President Trump’s executive order wouldn’t lead to a giveaway of America’s public lands.

“I am absolutely against transfer and sale of public lands,” Zinke said at the time. “I can’t be more clear.”

What’s now clear, however, is that Secretary Zinke’s actions don’t match his words — and he’s surrounding himself at the Interior Department with passionate supporters of land seizure efforts.


Written by on Monday, October 23rd, 2017

At a time when Westerners are feeling less than confident about the federal government’s commitment to respecting and protecting our outdoor way of life, we are increasingly looking to our state governments to fill the leadership void. Enter the Center for Western Priorities’ Western States Conservation Scorecard, which takes a close look at proactive, state-based conservation policies with a concentration on what Western states are doing well.

While news in recent years has focused on some state lawmakers attacking America’s public lands, we’ve too often lost sight of the proactive, pro-conservation, and pro-public lands policies successfully being passed through Western states. The Western States Conservation Scorecard ranks state policies on public lands access, outdoor recreation, and responsible energy development. It illuminates best practices and gaps in state-level public lands policies to highlight where Western states are demonstrating leadership and where they can improve in the coming years.


Written by on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has been all over the news in recent weeks — and it hasn’t been the kind of media attention politicians crave. Reports (here, here, here, here, here, and here) highlight the secretary’s questionable use of private charter flights and his unethical — and possibly illegal — habit of mixing politics with his official job as Interior Secretary.

Secretary Zinke has tried to cultivate an image of the hardened cowboy, more comfortable wrangling bulls in Montana than schmoozing donors at fancy fundraisers. Sometimes a politician’s image doesn’t align with his (or her) personality and priorities. Since joining the Trump administration in February, we know of at least 7 fundraisers or political events the secretary has attended at high-end resort destinations. The Interior Department has provided no receipts or evidence that Secretary Zinke repaid taxpayers for his government-funded flights to these locations.


Written by on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Former teacher Rep. Rob Bishop uses revisionist history to justify his attack on Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy

Congressman Rob Bishop is opening a new front in his crusade against America’s parks, monuments, and protected public lands. This time, the Utah congressman is touting his experience as a high school history teacher to rewrite American history and revise the the original intent of our nation’s most important conservation law — the Antiquities Act.

The Antiquities Act, signed into law by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, has been used by 16 presidents of both parties to protect America’s most spectacular cultural and natural areas. The law is responsible for originally protecting nearly half of all national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Acadia, and Arches. It’s under attack on two fronts: first President Trump’s secretive and error-filled review of national monuments, and now Rep. Bishop’s effort to eviscerate the Antiquities Act. (more…)

Written by on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

In an administration that’s famous for its love of “alternative facts,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is quickly earning a reputation as one of the most egregious purveyors of misleading statements and outright lies. (We’ve counted more than 30 in his 19-page memo to President Trump on national monuments.)

Over the weekend, while most news outlets were covering the $12,000 private flight Secretary Zinke booked after giving an inspirational speech to his biggest campaign benefactor, the Wall Street Journal instead gave Zinke a glowing puff piece in the editorial pages.


Written by on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

In a​n interview with the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal this afternoon, Secretary Zinke blamed “the resistance movement” for the lack of Senate-confirmed positions filled at the Department of Interior. Yet he’s failed to nominate more than half (10 of 14) of the open positions.


Written by on Friday, September 29th, 2017

Latest News

@WstrnPriorities on Twitter

14 hours ago
Putting Karen Budd-Falen at the head of @BLMNational would send a clear signal to land seizure advocates that @SecretaryZinke is on their side. https://t.co/oeA1rz6pHn
3 days ago
@SecretaryZinke rocked moccasins to celebrate native cultures. But tribes are focused on his plans to rock Bears Ears, via @bydarrylfears @eilperin
https://t.co/hJJcLWTvTZ https://t.co/MpgFr6aVpE
WstrnPriorities photo


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Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has made no secrets about his disdain for America’s...

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Trying to shrink Bears Ears, Trump makes it clear whose heritage he cares about

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Friday that President Trump had called him to announce his intent to dramatically shrink Bears...

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The Zinke Doctrine: Make public lands hard for the public to use, easy for industry to abuse

More than six months into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tenure at the Interior Department, we’re getting a clear picture of what...

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