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Nevada Democrats, Tribal Leaders fault Interior Secretary over Canceled Meetings

Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary refused to meet Nevada leaders

Nevada Democrats are not happy that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke canceled a scheduled meeting after his tour of the vast Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments, two national monuments on a list of sites that Trump administration is considering cutting in size.

Zinke said he shortened his trip for a cabinet meeting in Washington involving President Donald Trump’s top appointees.

Elected State Democrats and an Indian tribal leader described the secretary’s action as humiliating and disrespectful.

Chris Giunchigliani, a Clark County Commissioner said that Nevada was “disrespected” by the interior secretary. Congresswoman Dina Titus said, Republicans “turned it into a political event instead of getting good information about the value of our monuments.”

“I think Zinke never wanted to meet with people who do not want President Donald Trump to shrink the monuments or rescind protection that President Barack Obama declared last year,” Congresswoman Dina Titus said.

Darren Daboda, the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Chairman said that he thinks Indians with cultural ties to the area are being treated like second-class citizens saying that his tribal board planned a conference call Monday with Zinke. “These areas are who we are. It is part of our DNA to protect for future generations,” Daboda said.

The Interior Department fired back with a statement calling the critics’ claims “patently false.”

See also: Trump Threatens to End Payments to Health Insurers unless Obamacare Repealed.

Interior department spokeswoman Heather Swift explained that Mr. Zinke did all he could after arriving in Nevada from New Mexico over the weekend to tour the monuments and meet with people on Sunday. He “met with advocates on all sides of the issue, just as he has at every other previous monument stop,” said the statement provided by Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift.

U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen accused Zinke of breaking a promise to meet with the public before deciding on the monuments. The decision by the interior department is expected in a month.

“He chose to dodge meetings with important stakeholders and shut out the community by shortening his planned visit,” Kihuen said.

Zinke said he did not expect to return to Nevada before making a recommendation to Trump on whether to pare down the Gold Butte monument between the Virgin River and Arizona state line and a vast swath of rangeland across the central state dubbed the Basin and Range monument.

The two Nevada monuments cover 1,500 square miles, which is equal to half the size of Delaware.

Clark County Commissioner Giunchigliani said studies show that nearly three in four Nevadans support protection against development that President Barack Obama declared last year for the two Nevada monuments.

“We do not need to shrink our monuments. Period,” the Clark County commissioner said. “We will come wherever. However, you need to give an opportunity for the people who live in the state of Nevada to voice their concerns,” Giunchigliani added.



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