Of all the members of the Trump cabinet, the one with the most direct control of travel developments is the Secretary of the Interior, one Ryan Zinke. His agency is in direct charge of our U.S. national parks and can affect their development.
Rather, however, than cherish and protect those parks, Zinke is obviously hell-bent on starving and diminishing them.
He is a rather unusual (and one might even say juvenile) person. On the day he assumed his position, he rode a horse triumphantly to the building housing the Department of the Interior. Once settled in, he arranged for an employee to climb to the building’s roof to install the secretary’s own flag, indicating he was in the building. The flag comes down when he leaves.
At a recent congressional hearing, he carefully patronized a representative of Japanese descent from Hawaii by wishing her “Konnichiwa” (good afternoon) in an obvious racist gesture. On a personal vacation with his wife to Greece and Turkey, on which he transacted no official business, he directed that a U.S. government security detail costing tens of thousands of dollars accompany his wife and himself.
But more important than such antics have been his actual official acts and decisions.
He reduced the size of an important national monument area (Bears Ears National Monument, pictured above) by eighty percent.
He reduced another by twenty percent so that U.S.-owned land could become available for oil drilling and gas extraction.
He has toured the parks in aircraft belonging to oil and gas companies.
He has left no doubt that he wishes to open U.S. parklands for commercial development. He has placed business activities on pristine natural lands, such as on a grouse reserve, thus ending the ability of those areas to depict pure nature.
He has, most recently, opened up millions of acres of our U.S. shoreline to commercial drilling and exploitation. When he was advised that such uses would endanger the President’s Mar-a-Lago resort, he immediately exempted Florida and Mar-a-Lago from his plans. But all other states were left unprotected, and their coastlines are open to drilling rigs.
As for a great many important national parks, he has left no doubt that he wishes to install commercial businesses on their expanse.
He is, in short, the most flagrant enemy of our cherished national park system that has ever exercised the powers of a Secretary of the Interior. Yosemite and Yellowstone are unsafe in his hands.
We must all work to defeat his plans. I can think of no better effort in behalf of our travel industry than to prevent Ryan Zinke from accomplishing those ends.
He is a clear and present danger to institutions that all of us hold dear.