By Matt Kroschel
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– Hundreds rallied in Northern Colorado Friday evening, calling on the Federal Government to do more to protect public lands.
The Stand for Our Lands protest on the Routt County Courthouse lawn comes as Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visits the area. He spoke at the Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference about his vision for multiple users on public lands.
Zinke sat down with CBS4’s Matt Kroschel prior to the event and says he understands there are people who don’t agree with his new vision for managing public lands. He also says the Trump Administration has some lofty goals to reorganize and streamline bureaucratic red tape.
Zinke addressed the wild horse issue that costs tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars, a current program that people on all sides say isn’t working. Zinke would like to see the horses sterilized until population numbers stabilize. He says current ranges where horses are allowed to live in the West can’t support the growing population.
Wild horses are federally protected. Advocates for the horses don’t agree on a solution, but are “cautiously optimistic” they will be dealt with before the problem grows any worse.
Zinke spoke about wildfires currently raging across the West. He says there needs to be a better offensive game, clearing the fuel loads, more logging, before the massive fires can spread, destroying wildlife habitat and adding to the greenhouse gas problem.
Zinke and his team are working on a watershed program, an endeavor that itself is a monumental undertaking.
“I like to get out in the field, get out of Washington, as much as possible and really get a sense of what the real issues are on the ground by seeing them for myself,” he told CBS4 in his only interview with a Colorado TV station on Friday.