Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior on March 1, 2017.
A fifth-generation Montanan and former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Ryan Zinke built one of the strongest track records in the 114th Congress on championing sportsmen’s access, conservation, regulatory relief, forest management, responsible energy development, and smart management of federal lands.
“As a former Navy SEAL, Ryan has incredible leadership skills and an attitude of doing whatever it takes to win,” President Donald Trump said in nominating the former congressman, who built an impressive portfolio on Interior issues ranging from federal mineral leases to tribal affairs to public lands conservation.
Growing up in a logging and rail town near Glacier National Park, Ryan has had a lifelong appreciation for conserving America’s natural beauty while honoring Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of multiple-use on our public lands. He has consistently led the efforts to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Congress, and has also been a firm advocate for our nation’s sportsmen to gain access to our public lands with the SCORE Act and SHARE Act. Zinke also coauthored the Resilient Federal Forest Act, which initiated new reforms for revitalizing America’s timber towns and preventing wildfires by emphasizing the collaborative process.
Zinke is widely praised for his voting record supporting the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy of managing public lands, which calls for multiple-use to include economic, recreation and conservation. He has pledged to explore every possibility for safely and responsibly repealing bad regulations and using public natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people.
“I am honored and humbled to serve Montana and America as Secretary of the Interior,” Zinke said. “I shall faithfully uphold Teddy Roosevelt’s belief that our treasured public lands are ‘for the benefit and enjoyment of the people’. I will work tirelessly to ensure our public lands are managed and preserved in a way that benefits everyone for generations to come. Most importantly, our sovereign Indian Nations and territories must have the respect and freedom they deserve. I look forward to making the Department of the Interior and America great again.”
As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees who are stewards for 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and other public lands. The department oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 567 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
Ryan Zinke represented the state of Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2014. Before that he served in the Montana State Senate from 2009 to 2011, but the bulk of his public service was 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.
Zinke was commissioned as an officer in the Navy in 1985 and was soon selected to join the elite force where he would build an honorable career until his retirement in 2008. He retired with the rank of Commander after leading SEAL operations across the globe, including as the Deputy and Acting Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq and two tours at SEAL Team Six. Zinke was the first Navy SEAL elected to the U.S. House and is the first SEAL to serve as a cabinet secretary.
Zinke holds a Geology degree from the University of Oregon, where he was an All-PAC 10 football player; a Master’s degree in Business Finance from National University; and a Master’s degree in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. Ryan and his wife Lolita (Lola) have three children and two granddaughters. Zinke is proud to be an adopted member of the Assiniboine Sioux Tribe at the Fort Peck Reservation in Northeast Montana.