GOP legislative leaders cheer Zinke’s confirmation; Hope he will address Bears Ears soon

Ryan ZinkeUtah GOP leaders were more than pleased Wednesday with the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Montana Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior.

“We are very happy,” said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper.

“We believe we can get him out here soon” to meet with local and state officials, including leaders of the Navajo Nation, over the Bears Ears National Monument.

“We think we can get that rescinded” by GOP President Donald Trump or the U.S. Congress, which is controlled by Republicans.

“And then we can protect that area as it needs to be.”

Various resolutions have either passed this Legislature or are on their way that calls for the Barack Obama-created Bears Ears Monument in southeastern Utah to be rescinded, and a state monument/protection area put in its place.

Zinke’s confirmation has been slowed a bit. Otherwise, GOP legislative leaders believe he already would have been out in Utah for one of his first visits as Interior Department secretary.

The Legislature is in its final days – adjournment is scheduled for March 9.  While leaders would like to have Zinke here soon, they really can’t take time away from Capitol Hill for a joint visit to southeastern Utah until their state work wraps up in Salt Lake City.

The Bureau of Land Management – which controls millions of federal land acres in the West, and in Utah – is under the Interior Department.

Utah GOP leaders also hope state Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, will be tapped by Zinke and Trump to be the new director of the BLM – a position other Utahns have held over the last 30 years.