Over a dozen organizations and thousands of self-described "Mountain Mamas" in Montana are demanding transparency from the Interior Department.
They want to understand the criteria Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke used for his proposed changes to national monument boundaries.
Zinke recommended the boundary changes to President Trump, last Thursday, the same day he visited the command post for the Lolo Peak Fire outside Florence.
But Zinke offered no details, nor did he take questions from reporters regarding national monument changes.
A two-page public summary report says the Interior’s process included: gathering facts, holding meetings with people and governments around the monuments, and reviewing public and industry access to them.
That’s not enough transparency for Becky Edwards of Bozeman.
She’s the Director of Montana Mountain Mamas, a group of about 5,000 moms who believe that public lands are vital to the way they raise their kids.
“Oh man,” says Edwards, “I mean there’s no place better to be a kid than in Montana.”
“And you know, we want them to have lots of fresh air, lots of experiences, lots of opportunities to scrape their knees and go get lost in the woods… Hopefully not actually,” Edwards jokes.
Even though Zinke announced weeks ago that no changes will be made to Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks, one of the 22 national monuments he reviewed, Edwards is still frustrated.
Edwards says that in Montana, “transparency in government is as important as our public lands.”
She says the Mountain Mama’s “feel that Secretary Zinke has a responsibility to release the details of that report to the public and just be clear in his actions, and transparent with all of us Montanans, and all of us Americans.”
Other groups signing on to the letter demanding transparency include the Montana Wildlife Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Friends of Pompey’s Pillar, the Montana Wilderness Association, The Wilderness Society, and a Crow Tribal Member.
Part of the letter reads:
“Montanans and individuals throughout the West have spoken loud and clear about the need to honor local input into current land management designations. Your report to the President should not be shrouded in the dark cloak of secrecy.”