Vail Daily column: Trump and Zinke: Roosevelt Republicans in name only? |

Vail Daily column: Trump and Zinke: Roosevelt Republicans in name only?

David Lien
Special to the Daily |

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

Political pundits and historians have noted similarities between President Donald Trump and former President Theodore Roosevelt, both brash outsiders from New York who shook up politics with populist campaigns. During his post-election thank-you tour, President Donald Trump told a Fayetteville, North Carolina, crowd that he would honor Roosevelt’s legacy by conserving and protecting natural resources, particularly for hunters and anglers.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke once said, “I’m a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist. Like Teddy, I believe our lands are worth cherishing for the greater good.” Signed into law by Roosevelt in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — to safeguard millions of acres of public lands and waters as national monuments, including outstanding fish and wildlife habitat that provides some of the best hunting and angling in the nation.

However, on April 26, Trump signed an executive order mandating the review of 27 national monuments nationwide. The president’s action set in motion a process that could directly impact the future management of 11.3 million acres of public lands and waters. And on June 12, Zinke announced recommendations that would undermine Bears Ears National Monument in Utah — reducing the size of the monument and altering the current management practices. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney offered the following response:

“Over the course of more than a century, the Antiquities Act has proven one of our most potent mechanisms for permanently conserving important fish and wildlife habitat and upholding traditional hunting and fishing opportunities on our public lands. The recommendations made by Secretary Zinke, if adopted, would undermine the strength of the Antiquities Act, blunt a powerful conservation tool and diminish our national monuments system overall.”

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The public comment period on Bears Ears came to a close on May 25, and data shows that support for the monument is overwhelming. According to analysis from the Center for Western Priorities, 96 percent of the comments submitted to were supportive of national monument designations.

“The decision should be an easy one,” said Jennifer Rokala, Center for Western Priorities executive director. “More than 1 million Americans, including Utahans by a 9-to-1 margin, have asked President Trump to leave Bears Ears National Monument alone.”

Outdoor Alliance Executive Director Adam Cramer had this to say about the administration’s plans: “Both President Trump and Secretary Zinke have praised Theodore Roosevelt as a conservation icon they want to embody, but Roosevelt was known for making monuments, not rolling them back.”

Tawney adds, “An attack on one monument is an attack on them all. Public lands sportsmen will not stand idly by while these attacks unfold. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to stand up for our national monuments, the opportunities they represent and the legacy they protect and sustain.”

Recently, the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers held their ninth annual Rendezvous in the midst of the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest, which encompasses eight wilderness areas and 10 peaks higher than 14,000 feet. The White River National Forest also played host to former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 while the chief executive hunted mountain lions.

And, I wonder, if national monuments supported by more than 90 percent of Americans are on the chopping block, what’s next. Our national wildlife refuges, national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands? I hope Trump will become the next Theodore Roosevelt — a strong voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife — but his recent actions suggest the opposite, a Roosevelt Republican in name only.

David Lien, of Colorado Springs, is a former Air Force officer and chairman of the Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He’s the author of, “Hunting for Experience: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation,” and during 2014 was recognized by Field & Stream as a Hero of Conservation.

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