We learned this about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during his visit to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument over the weekend: He's a politician.
President Donald Trump has ordered Zinke to review 27 national monuments and determine whether some designations should be reversed or reduced. Zinke met with monument supporters and opponents during his visit. He said all the right things to reassure both sides, but nothing to indicate how he might be leaning.
What Zinke did say will make it difficult for him to recommend any changes to this monument, if he takes his own words to heart.
He said that much of the use of the monument is "heavy recreation," and that some lands now within national monuments would be "better suited" to designation as National Recreation Areas.
The Cascade-Siskiyou sees recreation, but that's not why it was created. President Bill Clinton established it in 2000 and Barack Obama expanded it this year to protect the area's unique biodiversity. Recreation is a side benefit.
Zinke acknowledged that justification, and said "you have to go to the science on what objects [are being protected], and in this case biodiversity, so let's look at what that means and how do we protect it."
Brown said Zinke told her he wanted to work collaboratively with Oregon, but gave no indication what his recommendation might be.
Judging by his words, Zinke understands the reasons for the monument. If he "goes to the science," it will tell him the monument should remain unchanged.