Protesters at a rally in Steamboat Springs Friday Aug. 10, 2018.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

Hundreds of people filled a Steamboat Springs city street next to the Routt County Courthouse Friday evening to protest a visit to the area by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Zinke was making an appearance at a private event sponsored by the conservative Steamboat Institute’s Freedom Conference.

Cody Perry, who helped organize the Stand for Our Land rally, said he staunchly opposed Zinke’s policies that have reduced the size of some national monuments, and made it possible for more private oil and gas exploration and extraction on public lands. 

Perry was particularly angered by Zinke’s move to shrink the size of Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah.

“I see it as a civil rights issue. I see him as marginalizing the sovereignty of tribes and I see it steeling from the American public,” he said.

Several women on horseback were among the hundreds of people protesting in Steamboat Springs on Friday against an appearance by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

​Zinke has argued that the federal land ought to be managed by Utah state leaders, many of whom supported resource extraction in Bears Ears. The Trump administration also reduced the size of the Grand Staircase Escalante.

Democratic State Rep. Dylan Roberts, Steamboat’s 1984 Winter Olympic gold medalist Deb Armstrong, Rout County officials, native American speakers, and others, took turns at the podium. Many in the crowd carried signs critical of Zinke and President Trump.

Earlier, Zinke told the Steamboat Pilot & Today, “I’m passionate about public lands. I'm passionate about never selling them, never transferring it, but we have to manage it.”

The secretary is also proposing to move the Bureau of Land Management, and perhaps the U.S. Geological Survey headquarters from Washington D.C. to an as-yet-unnamed western state, including Colorado.