What the Secretary of the Interior Thinks About President Trump's Donation to the National Park Service
Bob Eschliman : Apr 4, 2017
"I'm the steward of our nation's finest and most majestic holdings [and] I am thrilled at the president's decision to donate the check he did today." -Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
(Washington, DC)—[Charisma News] During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump pledged that he would donate his presidential salary, if he was elected. (Photo via Newsday)
Monday, during the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer handed over a check representing the president's pay since Jan. 20—every dime of it—to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to give to the National Park Service. The secretaries were joined by Tyrone Brandyburg, superintendent of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia.
Following the check presentation, Zinke shared a few thoughts with the media:
Those who don't know, I get my inspiration from Teddy Roosevelt. And the motto now in the Department of Interior, if you go to Yellowstone and you have the opportunity to look at the Roosevelt Arch, it says, inscribed in stone is: "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people." And that's our pledge.
So for those who aren't familiar with the Department of Interior, we span 12 time zones, from the Virgin Islands, all the way to Palau. And within our holdings are 20 percent of the nation's land. We have 417 national parks, we have 562 federally recognized Indian nations, 567 wildlife refuges and 221 wilderness areas. And I'm the steward of our nation's finest and most majestic holdings.
After riding on a horse on my first day—we were pretty busy—just on public lands alone, I signed directions, on the first day, to expand public access—important if you're in the West, especially in the far West, as Montana is. We've made sure we increased opportunities for traditional hunting, fishing, and conservation efforts. And we've invested millions across 12 states on preserving our conservation efforts there.
On energy, much of last week was spent on energy. We held one of our most successful leases—122,000 acres for wind development on federal lands, off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. We also stopped the war on coal by continuing a coal-leasing program. And I established an oversight committee to review and analyze across the board rents, royalties on our federal lands, with the objective of, No. 1, being transparent; No. 2, being Reagan—trust, but verify; and No. 3, making sure the taxpayers that own the public lands are getting fair value.
On the management side, we have unfortunately uncovered a lot of internal controls that weren't there. There's been in the news several incidents of sexual harassment and a culture of discrimination. And you can hear it from me—I put policies forth—zero tolerance for sexual harassment or discrimination. We have 70,000 full-time employees, and each employee deserves the right to enter a workplace that's innovative, teamwork, but free from harassment.
On the brighter side, we will pilot the first-ever dog-friendly Department of Interior. Puppy Day is coming up, so we've established that. And people ask, why are you doing that? Well, in some way, we compete on millennials. So we're trying to develop ourselves as a friendly department that's going to work with people, who are going to be an advocate for collaboration. And in doing that, we're going to start with being dog friendly. And also, we've taken to Twitter. As you know, this administration is Twitter-friendly, and so am I—@SecretaryZinke. (Photo: Ryan Zinke/by Molly Riley/AP/via NY Daily News)
And finally, as a veteran myself, I tell you, I am thrilled at the president's decision to donate the check he did today. I did talk to the president last night, and he has decided, as you know, to donate his entire quarter salary. And we're going to dedicate it and put it against the infrastructure on our nation's battlefields. We're about $100 [million] or $229 million behind in deferred maintenance on our battlefields alone, and that's on our 25 national battlefields. And we're excited about that opportunity.
So thank you very much for the opportunity to be with you, and thank you for—the American people to trust the stewardship of our nation's greatest holdings with us.