President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Interior Department was questioned by a senate committee Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke was pushed on several hot button land use issues -- issues he’s well acquainted with as a Montana congressman.
When it comes to questions about how he would manage the relationship between states and federal land managers, the greater sage grouse inevitably came up. The imperiled bird narrowly avoided landing on the Endangered Species List, but the debate over how to save the bird remains contentious.
“Everyone loves sage grouse, everyone understands that we have to protect the species – generally those living on the ground are in a better position," says Zinke. "And we should be an advocate and a partner in this, rather than heavy-handed.”
If his nomination is approved, Zinke will oversee agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch used his time during the hearing to explain his frustrations with the BLM and wildlife officials, and urged Zinke to overhaul the department.
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