Ryan Zinke Scribbles About His Public Lands Legacy as National Parks Devolve Into Chaos

Illustration for article titled Ryan Zinke Scribbles About His Public Lands Legacy as National Parks Devolve Into Chaos
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Wednesday is scandal haver Ryan Zinke’s last day as Secretary of the Interior. And it looks like his last official tweet will be the perfect memorial to his utter lack of self awareness.

The tweet features a photo of Zinke’s farewell note that looks part serial killer, part mixtape written in barely-legible red marker on Secretary of Interior letterhead. Here’s what it says:

“It’s been a high honor to serve the President and the American People as @ [sic] Interior Secretary. We’ve restored public lands “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” improved public access and shall never be held hostage again for our energy needs. God bless America and those who defend her.”


Crowing about improving access right now is perhaps the most tone deaf part of the note. National parks are being partially shuttered because of a protracted government shutdown over Trump’s border wall. Those that aren’t are filling up with poop and trash. And let’s not forget that Zinke raised the idea of charging more to enter parks, only to abandon it after major public outcry.

But really the whole thing is just one heaping helping of revisionist history and cluelessness. While I’m sure it’s been an honor for Zinke to serve as secretary—he got a flag and rode a horse to work on his first day!—I’m not sure it can be said that he brought honor to the office.

Over his tenure, at least 17 probes were opened into Zinke’s behavior. He may have violated the Hatch Act for tweeting about his MAGA socks (a phrase that feels almost too absurd to write), and he called a sitting Congressman a drunk, also on Twitter. He couldn’t even wear a park ranger hat the right way.


In more serious matters, Zinke was hardly instrumental in restoring public lands. He has been one of the administration’s biggest proponents of drilling for oil and gas, helping to shrink Bears Ears National Monument and wiping out Interior Department climate change guidance policies for land managers. He’s supported opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling as well as basically the entire continental shelf. He fashioned himself as a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, but his policies have favored big businesses at the expense of better land management. His acting replacement means more of the same, minus the scandals.

And land management will likely keep on deteriorating as Zinke rides off into the smog-choked sunset. There’s no end in sight for the shutdown, and Yosemite, the nation’s most iconic park, announced it was limiting access due to the aforementioned poop that overrunneth on Wednesday. Other parks could follow suit. Really it’s a fitting way to close out Zinke’s tenure.


Managing editor, Earther

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Jesus, he really wrote an @ with a marker on a piece of paper, didn’t he?  I mean he just went right ahead and did it.