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.
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.”