ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And there is word tonight of yet another Cabinet decision. President-elect Donald Trump has tapped a freshman Republican congressman from Montana to be his Interior secretary according to several news organizations. Ryan Zinke is a former Navy SEAL commander and an avid outdoorsman. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports that Representative Zinke has won praise for his support of access to public lands in the West.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: If confirmed as Interior secretary, Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana would be in charge of managing more than 500 million acres of public lands mostly in the West, including close to 400 national parks and monuments, not to mention countless dams and reservoirs.
This is a high-stakes job. Federal lands generate millions of dollars for the recreation and tourism industries as well as mining and cattle grazing. This is land that's open to all of us. It's just that what we can and cannot do on it is a decision that usually rests with the Interior secretary. Mark Trahant is a professor at the University of North Dakota.
MARK TRAHANT: I'm always reminded of that old joke that it doesn't matter who's elected president of the United States. It matters in the West when the secretary of Interior is appointed because that's the person that has the most direct say over our lives.
SIEGLER: A lifelong hunter and fisherman, Congressman Zinke's selection as the possible next head of Interior is drawing some initial praise from sportsmen here in the West who say he's had success balancing the public's right to access federal public lands with oil and gas drilling and coal mining. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Laramie, Wyo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.