Tester Meets with Zinke, Seeks Strong Commitment to Public Lands

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today met with Congressman Ryan Zinke, President-elect Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary nominee, to ensure our access to public lands, improve tribal relations, and oppose mining on the Yellowstone River near Yellowstone National Park.

Tester specifically asked Zinke to explain his vote last week on a set of rules that will make it easier for Congress to transfer federal lands to the states, and underscored the important role Montana’s public lands play in the state’s $6 billion outdoor economy.

“I had a good talk with Congressman Zinke about the future of Montana’s public lands, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, responsible natural resource development, and upholding trust and treaty responsibilities in Indian Country,” Tester said. “It is important that the next Interior Secretary is committed to protecting Montana’s outdoor way of life, and understands the threats facing those of us who love to hike, hunt, and fish on our public lands.”

Tester sought a commitment from Zinke to support full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and insisted that the popular recreation initiative only be used as intended-to increase public access to public lands.

Tester also asked Zinke about ongoing efforts to establish mines in the Paradise Valley, north of Yellowstone National Park.

Tester is opposing the two proposed mines in the Paradise Valley and will push legislation that prohibits the Interior Secretary from granting mining permits on two areas of federal land outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Tester, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, also asked Zinke to outline his priorities for creating jobs, improving education, and increasing access to health care in Indian Country.

Tester has launched a portal on his website to seek feedback on each of President-elect Trump’s nominees.

Zinke will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a public hearing in the coming weeks before being subject to confirmation by the entire Senate.