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Cody Perry: Zinke’s coming to Steamboat

Have you heard the news? Zinke is coming to town, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that is. He’s a featured speaker for the Steamboat Institute’s “Freedom Conference,” and I personally can’t thank them enough for bringing him to our community. I, for one, have a few things I’d like to speak with the Secretary about.

I’d like Zinke to know more about the town he’s visiting, from the roots of our ranching community to the modern recreational mecca it is today — our diverse community is defined by public lands.

I can’t go anywhere in this town without seeing how important open spaces are to our lifestyles and identities. People in Steamboat work hard to live in the enchanting Yampa Valley, surrounded by an open West full of public lands.

Steamboat has long been my base camp to explore mountains, deserts and rivers. Places we’ve taken our friends and family, created memories, learned the landscape and intend to pass down to our children. However, under the cynical leadership and dystopian vision of Secretary Zinke, the West we all know and love could soon look a lot different.

During Secretary Zinke’s tenure at the Department of Interior, which oversees the majority of public lands in the West, he has become a controversial partisan and inaccessible public figure. Zinke has disbanded citizen-led resource advisory councils that were an essential source of local input for the Bureau of Land Management on how to make decisions regarding land use, established a pattern of favoring special interests, notably extractive industries.

He inappropriately speaks at private political events such as the so called, “Freedom Conference” here in Steamboat. Zinke has declined to hold public hearings on everything from his decision to delay methane regulation to his recommendations to undo several of our nation’s most prized and unique National Monuments. The list goes on and on. Unless you happen to be the owner of a drilling or mining company, Zinke’s leadership has a negative impact on all of us.

The Stand for Our Land Rally, which will be held Aug. 10 in Steamboat Springs, is the public’s answer to the Steamboat Institute’s “Freedom Conference.” At a cost of $325 per seat, I can’t afford to attend their “exclusive” event. So we’re holding our own very public, very inclusive event.

I’ve joined a group of committed, thoughtful citizens who intend to organize just that kind of opportunity, a rally under the banner of “Stand for Our Land.” The fundamental message our coalition is crafting is one that supports public lands being held in trust of the common good, rather than exploited and diminished for the profit of the few.

Maintaining the integrity of public lands requires soliciting input on management decisions, respecting the multi-use criteria of public lands, and demanding more thoughtful approaches to public land issues. We invite ranchers, recreationalists, industry workers, scientists and average citizens to voice what public lands in our surrounding communities mean to them, and why privatizing public lands and selling them to extractive industries is a dangerous and unsustainable precedent.

Secretary Zinke needs to hear from all of us, the true stewards of public lands, so he can be better informed when making decisions that impact the future of the West – our resources deserve and require a much higher level of respect then we have seen thus far.

We hope our entire community feels empowered to come help the U.S. Secretary of the Interior understand the value of public lands in the West. After all, Zinke and his entourage all travel on taxpayer money.

Join me. Follow the “Stand for Our Land” Facebook event to get involved with the rally. Zinke’s coming to town. Let’s show him the power of a community that is committed to public lands.

Cody Perry

Rig to Flip project director


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