91°F
weather icon Clear

Stakeholders fume over Zinke’s shortened Nevada monuments visit

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who said Sunday he would like his federal agency to be known as the “happy department,” left some unhappy campers in the wake of his shortened trip to Nevada to review its two newest national monuments.

Among those chafed by the last-minute cancellation of promised meetings with local stakeholders were local Paiute tribes and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

“We have written, we have called (for him) to … meet with the opponents, meet with the tribes, meet with elected officials to hear the whole story,” she said Monday at a news conference in Las Vegas. “Well, that changed at the last minute. He couldn’t stay because he had some kind of Cabinet meeting with whoever is chief of staff this week … which is ridiculous. He could have come a day earlier.”

Two-day visit cut to one

Zinke arrived Sunday morning for what was to have been a two-day visit to tour the Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments, part of his review of 22 national monuments and five marine national monuments created by presidential decree since Jan. 1, 1996, to determine whether the designations should be scaled back or eliminated.

He did get a rapid-fire aerial tour of both monuments, which included jaunts on the ground to see some of their wonders. But his staff canceled meetings with local Paiute tribes, Titus and other opponents of changing the monuments’ boundaries, saying he had been summoned to Washington for a Cabinet meeting Monday with President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly.

Zinke met with local officials during a helicopter stop at Whitney Pocket in Gold Butte and also with a few stakeholders, including some representative of the Friends of Gold Butte conservation group and officials involved in artist Michael Heiser’s “City” project in Lincoln County.

During a brief news conference in Bunkerville at the end of the day, Zinke said he had made no decisions yet on the Nevada monuments. But, as he stood in front of the Gold Butte backdrop, he told reporters that one of his goals is to make cultural changes in the agencies under his control.

“We should be the happy department. When you see a BLM truck, you should think ‘land manager’ and not ‘law enforcement,” he said in an indirect reference to the nearby 2014 armed standoff between BLM agents and rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters.

He’ll have to work to put Darren Daboda, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, into that frame of mind.

Daboda said at Monday’s news conference that the snub by Zinke was the second time he had bailed on a promised meeting, having also skipped one while visiting Pahrump in June.

‘Empty promises’

“(It) felt like empty promises from the government … for him to dismiss us as Native Americans, not just my tribe but the Las Vegas tribe. We sort of felt like we’re treated like second-class citizens,” Daboda said, adding that the federal government has a responsibility “to respond to our concerns” about the monument review.

One of his tribe’s issues to ensure protection of areas where traditional pine nut harvests take place. “It’s in our DNA,” he said.

Daboda said that Zinke spoke with him for about 45 minutes by phone on Monday afternoon and that the Interior secretary apologized for having to truncate his trip. He also promised to return to Nevada at an unspecified future date to meet with tribe members.

Patrick Naranjo, UNLV resources coordinator and a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo tribe of New Mexico, was one of the few stakeholders who met with Zinke, during his helicopter tour stop at the Mount Irish petroglyph site in Basin and Range.

“He did give general options that weren’t very helpful for protecting the petroglyph sites. That struck each one of us who were in the meeting as odd,” Naranjo said.

“I do feel like he embraces the identity issue of these locations, what they mean,” he said. “But what I don’t think the secretary understood was how these elevate the institutional profile (of tribes) in Southern Nevada. They reflect the current demography of the people who are here, their current government status, their history of marginalization, their uniqueness living in this land before Western establishment.

“This is North American history in Nevada with the Indian people that are still here.”

At Sunday’s 20-minute talk with reporters in Bunkerville, Zinke said part of his review will be examining the “fairly loose” definition of monuments created through the Antiquities Act of 1906 and how it applies to large monuments like Gold Butte and Basin and Range, that combined encompass more than 1 million acres.

“If you have a monument on top of a wilderness study area, a monument is managed through proclamation and a wilderness study area is managed by the Wilderness Act until Congress takes action,” he said, noting that wilderness study areas have more stringent requirements.

That raises a question, Zinke said: “Do you manage it by a monument or do you manage it by the wilderness study area? That’s something I’ve asked Congress to clarify.”

Friends of Gold Butte Vice President Terri Rylander — a nonprofit citizens group that advocates protection of Gold Butte’s landscape, cultural resources, wildlife, land and solitude — said the monument’s “current boundaries reflect years of compromise and there’s no need to reduce them.”

Contact Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
THE LATEST
House committee OKs bill by Titus for airport signs

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Wednesday to translate airport signs into multiple languages to assist tourists and others who don’t speak English.