The U.S. Senate confirmed U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mt., on Wednesday as the nation’s 52nd Secretary of the Interior by a 68-31 vote.
His confirmation drew praise from the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, which strongly backed his nomination.
Zinke called himself “an unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt” during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 17.
Zinke said the former president “had it right” when he placed millions of acres of federal lands under federal protection. And he directly linked the availability of those federal lands to the enjoyment of outdoor recreation.
“Today much of those lands provide Americans the opportunity to hike, fish, camp, recreate and enjoy the great outdoors,” Zinke said.
Zinke was a co-sponsor of the recently enacted Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which requires measurement of the economic impact of outdoor recreation and its role in the economy.
The Department of the Interior is responsible for 25 percent of the country’s surface area and has an annual budget of $13 billion. It administers the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund, Pittman-Robertson Program and other key programs providing more than $1 billion annually in grants to assist outdoor recreation experiences.
The land and water the department manages provide the foundation for much of the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry, which directly supports 6.1 million jobs.
ORIR voiced its support for Zinke in letters to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., explaining the importance of the confirmation and urging swift action on the nomination.
"We look forward to working with new Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, who has a proven track record of commitment to our public lands and waters. We are excited to work with him and his team to advance outdoor recreation for our country, grow U.S. recreational jobs and ensure robust public access and treasured experiences for boaters and anglers across the nation,” National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.