The Secretary of Interior is a really important position.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the nation’s principal conservation agency. If you’re a stats person, here are some numbers to chew on:
The DOI is a large, decentralized agency with over 67,000 employees and 280,000 volunteers, located at approximately 2,400 operating sites across the United States, Puerto Rico, U.S. territories, and freely associated states. They discharge their responsibilities on a $16.8 billion total annual budget. DOI raises more than $18.2 billion in revenues collected from energy, mineral, grazing, timber, recreation, land sales, and other revenue producing activities.
DOI manages 500 million acres of surface land, or about one-fifth of the land in the United States, including:
- 256 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management
- 96.2 million acres managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service
- 84.6 million acres managed by the National Park Service
- 8.7 million acres managed by the Bureau of Reclamation associated with reclamation projects
- 66 million acres managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs
President-elect Donald Trump has officially decided he will hand this large responsibility over to Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke.
Zinke is an ex-Navy SEAL commander and received two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq. In a press release, Congressman Ryan Zinke announced his support for the Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act, also known as the SCORE Act. Rep. Zinke has proven time and time again he is a champion of conservation and Montana public lands, often voting against his party in favor of LWCF and against public lands sales.
“I believe our public land should be protected and conserved so future generations have the same recreational opportunities that we enjoy,” said Rep. Zinke. “When I came to Congress, I got on the Natural Resources Committee so I could shape policies that are best for Montana and create or reauthorize programs that help conserve our land and public access, like the SCORE Act, SHARE Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. I’m proud to partner with conservation groups and support this important legislation.”
The SCORE Act helps fund public land access projects and fish and wildlife habitat improvement projects on public and private land. Together, these bills can greatly help improve habitat and opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting.”
In addition, the SCORE Act also:
- Reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act*
- Reauthorizes the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.*
- Includes the bipartisan Making Public Lands Public provision, which requires that 1.5 percent of annual Land and Water Conservation Fund monies be made available to establish and expand recreational access to federal public lands
- Reauthorize the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a congressionally-chartered grant-making organization that works with public and private stakeholders.
- Reauthorizes Partners for Fish and Wildlife, which assists private landowners in preserving habitat for federally-managed species.
It’s also good to see the abundance of support coming from Trump’s selection:
Joel Webster, the Missoula-based director of Western lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
“We appreciate Congressman Zinke’s commitment to hunting and fishing through his support of the SCORE Act,” “This legislation would help to provide increased public access to public lands in Montana and across the country, and it would reauthorize important conservation programs that benefit fish, wildlife, and sportsmen.”
Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation said:
“The SCORE Act authorizes several habitat and access programs that will provide real, on-the-ground benefits for Montana’s hunters and anglers. We’re grateful to Congressman Zinke for working with his colleagues of both parties to pass this bill.”
David Allen, President & CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said:
We very much appreciate Rep. Zinke signing on as a cosponsor to the SCORE Act,”
Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
“The Sportsmen’s Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act is an essential piece of legislation that will not only enhance habitat for fish and wildlife on public and private lands, it contains widely supported provisions that expand access for America’s hunters and anglers to quality hunting and fishing opportunities. We applaud Rep. Zinke’s leadership on behalf of Montana’s sportsmen and women and thank him for joining the ranks of bi-partisan co-sponsors working to move this bill forward,”
— Ryan Zinke (@RepRyanZinke) April 15, 2016