Zinke says he opposes privatizing parks

In an op-ed published by FOX News this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he's opposed to selling off public land and privatizing parks.
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This week, President Donald Trump kicked off "Made in America Week," highlighting U.S.-made products from every state. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined in, too, putting the spotlight on America's public lands.

In an op-ed published by FOX News, Zinke wrote that he's working on bringing more amenities to parks on federal land. Increasingly, travelers want access to wifi, shuttle services, boat ramps, concessions, and camping, he said, among other features. He planned to have a roundtable discussion with outdoor industry leaders to determine how they can contribute to parks' needs. One idea he had was for outfitters to invest in energy-efficient cabins within parks and fishing access points, he wrote.

Ryan Zinke

"More partnerships does not mean privatizing our parks as some have wrongly suggested," Zinke wrote. "I am opposed to the sale or transfer of our public lands, and under my watch our public lands will remain public, 'For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,' as the famous Yellowstone Roosevelt Arch states.

"Having partners on public lands also does not mean the tour bus will look like a race car covered in corporate stickers. Some of our most iconic features are only possible thanks to partnerships."

Zinke quoted the Outdoor Industry Association's recreation economy numbers, citing the estimated $887 billion Americans spend on recreation here every year. He also called out private partnerships in parks like Grand Canyon and Glacier National Parks, which allow people to take tours or stay in hotels right inside the park.

"Made in America is as much about products as much as it is about the shared American experience created here," Zinke wrote. "It is about making memories by taking a kid fishing for the first time, or in my case, taking my wife hiking early in our relationship.

"There’s a reason why 330 million people from across the country and around the world visit our parks every year, and why millions more flock to public lands from coast to coast: It’s because these spaces are uniquely American."

Read Zinke's full op-ed here.