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

Any time you’ve had a tough week, it’s nice to retreat to a comfortable place, where you can forget about the last few days. After this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke must be awfully happy he’s escaping to the friendly confines of the Heritage Foundation, where he’ll present “A Vision for American Energy Dominance.”


Written by on Thursday, September 28th, 2017

In the week since the Washington Post published Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s secret final report on national monuments, a staggering number of falsehoods and misleading claims have come to light. The errors, taken in whole, suggest the entire report is nothing more than a pretext to open protected public lands and waters to extractive industries like coal, oil, timber, and industrial-scale fishing, with little attention paid to scientific accuracy.


Written by on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Wildfire is an ever-present reality for many communities in the Western United States. As the West’s fires burn longer and hotter, some politicians have taken to scapegoating the region’s public lands, alleging that wildfire is worse on U.S. public lands than state-owned lands. Their claim, according to a new analysis of wildfire risk in the West, is entirely untrue. It’s time for public officials to abandon their baseless rhetoric and engage in pragmatic conversations and policy development to protect Western communities from wildfire risks.

To that end, the Center for Western Priorities has released a first-of-its-kind analysis of wildfire data comparing the risk of wildfire on U.S. public lands versus state-owned lands.


Written by on Thursday, September 21st, 2017

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@WstrnPriorities on Twitter

2 days ago
Montana @GovernorBullock: "Frankly, it makes me wonder whether the president is truly committed to investing in what makes America great, because a fundamental part of what makes America great is our land."
3 days ago
Whether it’s a @CNN op-ed or a @FoxBusiness interview, @SecretaryZinke just can’t stop lying about national monuments.


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