Outdoor Groups Ask Secretary Zinke to ‘Walk the Talk’ on Public Lands

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Legal petition under the Administrative Procedures Act calls for federal rulemaking to prevent widespread sale or transfer of the nation's public lands, according to The Wilderness Society.

Public lands allow Americans to explore the great outdoors.

Salmon Challis National Forest

"It’s easy to forget that public servants—like Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—work for us, the American people,” said Brad Brooks, director of public lands with The Wilderness Society.

Today a national coalition of sportsmen, recreation, business and conservation groups calls on the Department of the Interior and Secretary Ryan Zinke to make good on its promise to the American public that it is against the widespread sale or transfer of 445 million acres of public lands under the department’s management authority.

The Wilderness Society and partners issued that reminder in the form of a legal petition to Secretary Zinke under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

“In the wake of a wildly unpopular national monument ‘review,’ it’s easy to forget that public servants—like Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—work for us, the American people,” said Brad Brooks, director of public lands with The Wilderness Society. “It’s time for Secretary Zinke to show us how serious he is about keeping public lands public.”

Partner statements below:

The APA petition asks Secretary Zinke to put his promise to keep public lands from being sold off in writing by creating federal rules that would prohibit the large-scale sale or giveaway of public lands administered by the agency. While legitimate land swaps can still occur through proper channels, as described in the petition, the Department of the Interior has the authority and the obligation to issue the requested rule ensuring that public lands remain forever in public hands.

“Public lands are everyone’s America,” said Johnny Land Le Coq, founder and CEO of Denver, Colorado-based fishpond USA. “They’re sacred, and if we lose them, we won’t get them back. Actions speak louder than words, Secretary Zinke. If you really want to build America, start by drafting a rule that preserves the integrity of this country by preserving our public lands for people and wildlife. Show us what you’re worth.”

Although any American can make an APA petition request — and many have — the call for a formal rule prohibiting the sale or giveaway of public lands administered by the Department of the Interior has never been necessary, until now.

“Even though we may not always agree about how we use public lands, we all love these places and agree they ought to remain public,” said Martin Hackworth, executive director of Sharetrails.org and the BlueRibbon Coalition in Pocatello, Idaho.

The Department of the Interior manages 445 million acres of public lands across the nation. As agency chief, and as declared by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Secretary Zinke has the responsibility to ensure those public lands remain in public ownership.

"We’re losing, not gaining, access to the wild places where people can go out and get lost, where they can learn self-reliance and have the ability to grow,” said Ryan Callaghan with First Lite, a leading hunting clothing manufacturer in Idaho. “This is where we go for recreation. It’s where we go to test our products and develop new products, and more than 80 percent of First Lite's customers hunt exclusively on public lands. We have a vested interest for both our work lives and private lives when it comes to ensuring that public lands with access and quality experiences are here long after we are. First Lite would like to hear, in Secretary Zinke’s own words, why this requested rule wouldn’t work for him."

“The legal petition filed by The Wilderness Society on behalf of this diverse group of users, businesses and citizens allows Secretary Zinke up to six months to initiate the rule-making,” said Brad Brooks with The Wilderness Society. “If he fails to respond, we all recognize where he stands and petitioners will act accordingly.”

Media Resources page
Petition and Summary
Blog Post

The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. http://www.wilderness.org.

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Michael Reinemer

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