WASHINGTON - Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., voted Wednesday in favor of confirming Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior after two previous "present" votes.
“After several discussions, I received an assurance that as secretary of the Interior, Rep. Zinke will focus on doing his job, which includes protecting our special places and managing the forests already within the Interior Department’s control, instead of engaging in senseless reorganization of bureaucracies," Wyden said.
“Oregonians deserve to know that the person at the head of the agency responsible for managing Oregon’s O&C lands will work to resolve the decades-long disagreements in our forests.
"It’s clear Rep. Zinke has a lot of work ahead of him when it comes to protecting our treasured public lands, sustainably increasing the harvest, creating jobs in rural Oregon timber counties, keeping in place environmental standards that protect our special places and uniquely engaging with Oregon’s tribal nations. I will be working to hold him to this commitment to begin work on successfully managing Oregon’s O&C forests,” the senator added
Wyden abstained from voting during the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s vote because of news reports that indicated Zinke was interested in transferring federal forest management from the U.S. Forest Service to the Interior Department. Earlier this week, he voted “present” during a procedural vote to proceed to Zinke’s confirmation on the Senate floor.
The Senate confirmed Zinke on a 68-31 vote.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, released the following statement afterward:
"This is a great day for Oregon and the West. My good friend Ryan Zinke will make a tremendous Secretary of the Interior. Together, we have a lot of work to do to improve the health of our forests, increases access to our public lands, clean up our national parks, and boost American energy production. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and my colleagues in Congress to accomplish these important goals while creating quality jobs in Oregon and throughout the West."
The Department of the Interior manages the 2.8 million acres of Oregon’s O&C forests. Walden said forest management in these forests has been tied up in litigation for years, preventing vital wildfire prevention work and forest maintenance from being completed.