The craggy ridge of a formation of red rocks is pictured under a cloudless blue sky in Utah.

Pictured on a clear, blue-sky day on Dec. 18, 2016, Bears Ears — located in Utah’s Four Corners Region — is among the 3.3 million acres of public federal lands that Republicans have proposed be put up for sale. 

Credit:

Annie Knox/Reuters

Over President Donald Trump's first 100 days, we're asking him questions that our audience wants answers to. Join the project by tweeting this question to @realDonaldTrump with the hashtag #100Days100Qs.

#59. @realDonaldTrump, what’s your plan to preserve federal lands? #100Days100Qs

When Donald Trump was still vying for the Republican nomination, advocates for the federal protection of public lands had at least some reason to be hopeful if it turned out that the billionaire businessman should be elected to the presidency.

In January 2016, Trump told Field & Stream magazine that he didn’t “like the idea” of transferring control of the country’s 640 million acres of public lands to individual states, local municipalities or corporate interests.

“This is magnificent land,” Trump said. “And we have to be great stewards of this land.”

Trump’s position on keeping federal land under federal regulation stood in direct contrast to the Republican Party’s mainline position on the issue, which calls it “absurd” for the national government to oversee so many acres.

After winning the election, Trump tapped Republican Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to run the Department of the Interior. Like Trump, Zinke bucked the party line during his confirmation hearing when he said that he, too, preferred that the federal government continue to manage the country’s public lands. However, in early January, he joined fellow Republicans in a vote on the House floor that set in motion procedures to make it easier for the federal government to let go of public land.

Zinke’s turnaround might have foreshadowed the lack of clarity that would arise around Trump’s plans for control of the country’s federal lands.

On Jan. 31, Republicans introduced a bill that would make more than 3 million acres of federal land — currently under the purview of the Bureau of Land Management — available for sale. Meanwhile, one of Trump’s first actions in office was to institute a temporary hiring freeze to the government’s executive branches, making it difficult for the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies to effectively manage the lands for which they are responsible.

And Trump’s 2018 budget proposes to cut funding to the Department of Interior by 12 percent, and specifically, it slashes $120 million set aside for the acquisition of additional federal land.

President Trump, you’ve said that the federal government should protect federal land. Yet your actions indicate otherwise. How, specifically, will you and the members of your administration be the “great stewards” that you believe our land requires? Click here to ask the president in a tweet. 

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