U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending the Trump administration’s policies on public land. The secretary took his message Friday to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Zinke says he came out west to reaffirm his commitment to federally managed lands, including national parks. He spoke with reporters at an event in Kings Canyon National Park, a day after meeting with California Governor Jerry Brown, one of the president’s harshest critics.
“Up front I am not a sell or transfer public land," Zinke says. "We need to look at the managing of it and that’s what I’m doing here going out on the front line."
President Trump’s budget calls for a one-and-a half billion dollar cut to the park system’s funding, and the president has faced criticism for talk of loosening rules on the use of public land.
“President Trump’s a good boss," Zinke says. "He doesn’t micromanage. He gives me a call once a week and asks me how I’m doing. And up front I am not a sell or transfer public land. We need to be stewards of it.”
Zinke also says he’d like the department to focus on finding a remedy for the massive tree die off brought on by drought and bark beetles.
“Nobody wants catastrophic forest fires," Zinke says. "We got to make sure that we have a program that looks at our dead and dying trees and restores the health of our forests.”
According to Zinke, the administration plans to reorganize resources from operations in Washington DC to the parks themselves. He also says even if there’s a government shutdown under the President’s budget resolution later this month, parks like Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon won’t stop operating.