In our recent discussions of downsizing national monuments, I don’t think this little sideshow has been mentioned.
As part of his review of national monuments across the United States, the Interior secretary did not recommend a reduction in the size of any in his home state of Montana. In fact, Zinke, who represented Montana in Congress prior to taking over as Interior secretary earlier this year, recommended that Trump create a new 130,000-acre national monument in the Badger-Two Medicine area of northwestern Montana.
Both Bears Ears and Badger-Two Medicine are of cultural significance to Native American tribes. But only one is in Zinke’s home state.
“Everything that Secretary Zinke does in Montana is 180 degrees from what he does to the rest of the country,” Center for Western Priorities spokesperson Aaron Weiss told ThinkProgress. “Montana gets special treatment because he would like to be governor there some day.”
Land Tawney, executive director of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, told the Missoulian newspaper. “As you’re attacking the seminal accomplishments of [President Theodore] Roosevelt and at same time talking about adding a monument, it didn’t make much sense,”
Another take from the National Parks Conservation Association (in the Missoulian article): “If monuments aren’t permanent, we don’t want monument status. If it’s so transitory and impermanent it can be undone by the stroke of a pen in some future administration, it’s not permanent protection.”
It’s not obvious that the resource development opportunities foregone are that different from Utah either. (I was reminded of this situation because a lawsuit is pending regarding a disputed oil lease in the Badger-Two Medicine.)