To the editor,
President Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature ... not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements."
Roosevelt understood the importance of using his authority to protect wildlife and public lands. He established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments by enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act.
My office at Red River High School is adorned with pictures of Roosevelt along with his quotes and accomplishments. I visit state and national parks and I'm proud to be a member of the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association and make my monthly contribution to help keep our country's jewels protected.
Rep. Kevin Cramer recently claimed "Ryan Zinke has demonstrated a Roosevelt-like mentality since becoming secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior."
I couldn't disagree more.
■ Zinke's Interior Department recently reviewed national monuments that had been designated by the Antiquities Act. This led to the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.
Nearly 2 million acres of protected land was lost and nearly 3 million Americans gave public comment on the proposal and asked for no change in acreage.
Zinke's response: "You will never make extremists happy."
■ Zinke is proposing to double the entrance fees for 17 national parks, despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of Americans polled would be less likely to visit a national park if its fees increased.
Zinke's response: "Come on, America. If you think $80 is too much to ask - I mean, come on."
■ Under Zinke's watch, the administration's budget calls for a 13 percent cut to the Park Service. This would be the largest cut to the agency since World War II. At this funding level, nearly 90 percent of parks would reduce their current staffing levels, leading to a reduction in
services to the public.
■ Zinke has yet to fill numerous key positions that require Senate confirmation. There are currently no nominees for directors of the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, Park Service or the Geological Survey.
Zinke stated recently, "I'm a Teddy Roosevelt guy!" Again, I completely disagree.
On the other hand, I do agree with the president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, who recently stated, "Zinke has been a disappointment."