Hailed as a Roosevelt Republican when nominated as Secretary of the Interior, due to his past support for public lands conservation, Secretary Ryan Zinke seems to have thrown the sportsmen communities under the bus. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the Interior Department memo last week instructing BLM field offices “to simplify and streamline the leasing process” for oil and gas leases, has alarmed sportsmen organizations and conservationists alike. This same memo makes optional the once mandatory process of public comment on proposed leases.
“This is a step backward in efforts to balance energy development with sporting opportunity,” Steve Kandell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, said in a statement. “The scrapping of master leasing plans dramatically reduces the opportunities for public involvement and shuts out the voices of local stakeholders, including sportsmen and women, in the management of their favorite places to fish and hunt.”
Studies conducted by Southwick Associations for NSIA concur with Mr. Kandell that taking of public lands for the benefit of special interests will have long-term detrimental impacts on our industry, as well as the hunting and outdoor recreation industries. Southwick determined that access to public lands and waterways support roughly 65% of the economic benefits from sportfishing.
Sport Fishing Expenditures and Economic Impacts on Public Lands in Oregon
Sport Fishing Expenditures and Economic Impacts on Public Lands in Washington
NSIA Washington graphic FINAL small