President Trump, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at odds over budget

President Trump’s administration is looking to take a hacksaw to the Department of the Interior’s budget and the incoming Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “not happy” about it.

According to reports from E&E News, the new administration is looking to cut 10 percent from Interior’s annual budget, which translates into a $1.3 billion reduction from last year’s $13.3 billion budget. The Interior Department — which is already spread razor thin — does everything from overseeing America’s parks and managing endangered wildlife to balancing the multiple critical uses of the more than 500 million acres of American-owned lands.

In Secretary Zinke’s first address to Interior staff, he said:

“I’m going to fight for the budget. I looked at the budget. I’m not happy, but we’re going to fight about it and I think I’m going to win at the end of the day.”

The impending fight between President Trump and his new Interior Secretary will have long-term consequences for America’s parks, public lands, and the growing outdoor recreation economy dependent upon lands managed by the Department of the Interior. Cutting Interior’s budget would mean less money for trails and recreation access, less money for land management, and less money for parks, monuments, and wildlife refuges.

If President Trump does get his way, Secretary Zinke’s agenda won’t stand a chance. In a blog posted hours after taking the reigns at Interior, the Secretary noted two of his top priorities include:

  • Addressing the “estimated 12.5 billion dollars in backlog of maintenance and repair in our National Parks”
  • Increasing “employee morale and [ensuring] those of you on the front lines have the right tools, right resources, and flexibility to make the decisions to allow you to do your job”

Both priorities necessitate a renewed investment into the Interior Department and our national parks, wildlife refuges, and other conservation lands.

President Trump is demanding the opposite.

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