The Secretary of Interior is a big position to fill.
In recent reports breaking from various sources, it sounds like Donald Trump is going to appoint Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) as the next Secretary of Interior. However, is this going to be a good thing for hunters and fishermen around the U.S.? Well, if you believe the words of Donald Trump Jr., this could get interesting.
In an interview with Trump Jr. back during the primary elections, he was very vocal about being heavily involved in the affairs of the Interior. As most outdoorsmen know, he is one of the foremost hunters in the United States. He is also the youngest elected board member of the Boone and Crockett club, which is no small feat.
“I will be the very loud voice about these issues in my father’s ear. No one gets it more than us,” he said. “We are going to make sure our issues are taken care of. We are going to take care of our lands. Even with the federal lands, they haven’t been managed, they haven’t been taken care of, and they’ve been beaten up and abused,” he went on to say.
Who is Cathy McMorris Rodgers?
So, how will McMorris Rodgers, acting as the Secretary of Interior, handle bringing sportsmanship-centered ideas to light? Currently, she is the highest-ranking female member of the GOP. She is also the vice chair of the Trump’s transition team. On top of that, she has a boatload of experience dealing with conservation issues, and she understands hunting and fishing.
“In the Northwest, hunting and fishing is a way of life for many, and for generations this has occurred on federal lands. But, too often, Federal Agencies and their regulations impede, or prevent outright, hunting, fishing, and recreation, “she wrote in a statement about her vote to pass the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2015. “Bureaucrats in D.C. shouldn’t be allowed to reshape American culture—preventing something so deeply engrained in our heritage.”
On the contrary, however, she has a long history of sponsoring bills that would sell federal lands to public interests. For example, back in 2011, she c0-sponsored the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act. This bill would have transfered 3,000,000 acres of federal land to the states. However, in more recent history, her stances have turned more hunter- and angler-focused.
For a little more background, here’s her campaign video from earlier in the year.
Seeing as she is from Washington, federal land issues are always in debate. Trump has been on record many times saying that he wants to expand public lands for energy development. Usually, that isn’t good for outdoorsmen. However, he also has a more conservation-focused agenda and talks of following in Teddy Roosevelt’s footsteps. As you can guess, this will be a tight rope to walk for McMorris Rodgers as she appears to be set to head the 70,000 employee, 12 billion dollar department.
“The frustration that Westerners have is these definitions—that you can’t be for the environment and a Republican,” political strategist Todd Cranney said in an interview. “People don’t understand, there’s no bigger environmentalist than a farmer and rancher, because it’s their livelihood.”
According to a source close to Trump Jr., his mission during the campaign was to make sure outdoorsmen knew their votes mattered. Now that his father will soon take office, one has to suspect the appointment of McMorris Rodgers as Secretary of Interior has his fingerprints all over it. With the understanding of how passionate Jr. is about hunting and fishing, you can bet sportsmen are in good hands. Besides, there would be a lot to see.
In some rather shocking statistics captured days after the election ended, the total number of hunting licenses sold in each of the highly contested states of Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida, versus the margin of victory, tells a story. These numbers do not reflect recent recount efforts by Jill Stein or other vote-settling since the election; the actual numbers my vary based on the source.
Arizona: Hunting licenses: 200,09 – Trump victory margin: 83,511
Wisconsin: Hunting licenses: 717,381 – Trump victory margin: 27,257
Pennsylvania: Hunting licenses: 969,633 – Trump victory margin: 68,236
Ohio: Hunting licenses: 404,997 – Trump victory margin: 454,983
North Carolina: Hunting licenses: 545,032 – Trump victory margin: 177,529
Michigan: Hunting licenses: 763,618 – Trump victory margin: 83,511
Florida: Hunting licenses: 175,349 – Trump victory margin: 119,770
Based on those numbers, it’s seems clear that outdoorsmen influenced this election. It’s also clear how valuable their vote truly is. Thankfully, the new administration understands that. This potential appointment appears to be another example of Trump placing people in power who actually have walked the walk instead of talking the talk, like we have witnessed during the last eight years.
As an outdoorsmen myself, if Donald Trump Jr. approves of this appointment, then so do I. I think all outdoorsmen can agree on that. Secondly, Trump has been true to his word so far. He has promised to keep public lands public and always remember the hunters and fishermen of America. Regardless of some possible red flags from McMorris Rodgers’ past, the future seems very bright.