The move appears at least partially aimed at appeasing hunting and fishing groups that have grown frustrated with the former Montana congressman as he has prioritized energy development over conservation. It also comes as the public awaits details about which national monuments Zinke has sent to President Donald Trump’s chopping block — and by how much the administration will try to shrink each site.
Along with increasing public access for such activities, Friday’s order aims to “improve wildlife management and conservation” and put “a greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining news sportsmen conservationists,” including children, veterans and minorities, according to the Interior Department. It directs the agency’s bureaus to come up with a plan to open up access on land they manage and “amend national monument management plans to ensure the public’s right to hunt, fish and target shoot.”
Zinke said in a statement that his order is “the latest example of how the Trump Administration is actively moving to support hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation on public lands.”
“Hunting and fishing is a cornerstone of the American tradition and hunters and fishers of America are the backbone of land and wildlife conservation,” he said. “The more people we can get outdoors, the better things will be for our public lands.”
Among those who applauded Friday’s announcement was Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
“Restoring wildlife habitat and expanding opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation will help increase wildlife populations and connect millions of Americans with our nation’s natural treasures,” O’Mara said in a statement accompanying the agency’s release. “Secretary Zinke’s order demonstrates his commitment to collaborate closely with conservation organizations and state agencies to achieve these critical conservation outcomes.”
O’Mara’s comments are starkly different than two months ago, when he told HuffPost that conservation had taken a clear back seat and that Zinke…