Interior chief again debunks Montana monument rumors
Secretary says some people ‘fanning the flames’ on false rumors
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today told Senator Jon Tester that there are no closed-door “backroom deals” to create national monuments in Montana.
During a hearing on Capitol Hill, Salazar said some people are “fanning the flames” of false rumors regarding proposed national monument designations in Montana. The false rumors were sparked by a recent Interior Department “brainstorming memo” that mentioned areas in Montana.
“There are all kinds of documents still flying around that seem to be reinventing the issue,” Tester told Salazar.
“Back in March, you were here before this Committee and you told me there are no plans for monument designation in Montana,” Tester added. “You have also responded to written requests with the same message: nothing would move forward without substantial public input. But this hasn’t stopped a few folks from continuing to believe there will be a national monument designation in Montana. So I guess the first question is: do you know something I don’t?”
“I think it is folks fanning the flames,” Salazar responded. “We hope that we move forward with a conservation agenda. But it involves listening to the people and it doesn’t involve the heavy hand of government coming in and imposing the monument authority.”
Tester pressed Salazar on assuring Montanans that there are no deals or “secret meetings in back rooms” on national monument plans. Salazar said he plans to issue a statement this week to clarify his Department’s conservation plans.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other leaders held a public listening session in Ovando on June 1 to gather local Montanans’ input on conservation ideas.
Video of Tester’s exchange with Salazar is available HERE.