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Broken Promises: Nevadans Condemn Ryan Zinke Shutting Them Out of Monuments Review

Hours after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke abruptly left Nevada, Southern Nevada elected officials and local public lands advocates gathered in Las Vegas to express their outrage. Zinke had promised two days worth of meetings with environmentalists, Native Americans, and elected leaders to discuss Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. Instead, Zinke left them hanging.

“They left local government out of the process.”
– Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D)

Nevadans React to Secretary Ryan Zinke's Short Visit to Nevada During Monuments Review

Posted by Protect Nevada on Monday, July 31, 2017

Two Clark County Commissioners called out Zinke for leaving them out of the Trump Administration’s monuments review process. Kirkpatrick, whose district includes Gold Butte, found “disingenuous” Zinke’s excuses for not meeting with anyone from Clark County. “It’s disappointing we couldn’t collaborate in meetings we were scheduled to have.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D) then described how Zinke left her even further in the dark. “They didn’t even have the courtesy to call me.” Despite Zinke’s claim that the White House is making sure “locals have a voice” in Bunkerville the previous day, Giunchigliani explained in further detail how Clark County Commissioners had no chance to explain to Zinke their concerns that a reduction or revocation of Gold Butte National Monument would harm Southern Nevada’s economy.

“This morphed into political gamesmanship. They have disrespected Nevadans.”
– Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D)

We later caught up with Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council Chair Darren Daboda. In June, Daboda pre-butted Zinke’s claim that the Trump Administration is consulting with Nevada’s Native American communities on Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments. This time around, Zinke had scheduled an appointment to meet with Moapa Paiute leaders during his stop in Gold Butte.

Photo by Andrew Davey

Once again, the planned meeting never happened. Even though Zinke found time to fit in a hike at Gold Butte with BLM officials and Republican politicians, Daboda stated, “We didn’t really physically talk to Secretary Zinke.” Instead, they merely got a conference call the following day.

“These areas we want to keep protected for future generations.”
– Darren Daboda, Moapa Band of Paiutes

Mesquite resident and business owner Terri Rylander sees the value of keeping Gold Butte protected. As Executive Director of Mesquite Senior Games, Rylander sees first-hand Mesquite’s potential ecotourism growth. “We are proud of our protected lands, want to showcase what we have here, and keep those tourism dollars in Nevada.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

Zinke was supposed to meet with Friends of Gold Butte, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas), and other local environmentalists in Mesquite on Monday. Rylander was looking forward to communicating directly with Zinke. She learned on Friday that the Monday meeting was cancelled. Despite Zinke making time for that private hike through Gold Butte, neither Rylander nor anyone else at Friends of Gold Butte was invited to join.

“Keep your hands off our monuments.”
– Rep. Dina Titus

Titus condemned Zinke’s cancellation of planned meetings and cherry-picking of individuals he ultimately met with. “We have written. We have called. […] We agreed to meet with him at any time, any location.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

Even Members of Congress were removed from Zinke’s agenda, and it’s still unclear whether he will meet with Titus, local officials, or Native American tribal leaders before he concludes his monuments review. Zinke is expected to submit a final report to the White House on August 25 with recommendations for the future of Gold Butte, Basin and Range, and several other monuments across the nation.

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