Salt Lake City, UT.   –   Hunters, anglers and conservation groups are running full-page ads in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News to send a message to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is scheduled to speak Friday in Salt Lake City.

Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands with the National Wildlife Federation, is troubled by recent Department of the Interior decisions, including undoing master leasing plans for development on public lands.

She says extraction can coexist with other activities, but it takes careful planning and input from local communities.

“And our concern is that we’re losing those tools to do energy development right,” she says. “So, this is sportsmen and women saying, ‘These are really important places to us, that we have to leave as is for future generations.'”

The ad includes the tag line, “Protect the land and you protect everything that comes with it.”

Manning notes that master leasing plans allow people who really know local landscapes, like hunters, to have a say in which areas are best to leave untouched.

In an effort to create jobs and boost the nation’s energy dominance, the Interior Department has promised to remove what it sees as barriers to production, including shrinking national monuments, such as Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Manning says prioritizing energy production upsets the Interior Department’s traditional balanced approach to multiple uses of public lands. She adds western economies are doing pretty well and unemployment numbers are low.

“Can we do better? Yes,” says Manning. “But not at the expense of our hunting experiences – of clean water, of clean air, of how we live and play on these lands as westerners.”

The ad features men and women hunting and fishing across the West, and makes the case that public lands “from sagebrush country to national monuments” provide clean water, sustain fish and wildlife, and support fishing and hunting.

Zinke has also targeted the multi-state Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan to open up additional areas for drilling.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service