Trump nominates Bernhardt as Interior secretary

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has announced his nomination of acting secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to take over the department officially. Bernhardt has led the Interior Department on an interim basis since former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned over ethics questions in January.

Bernhardt is an avid sportsman with experience managing fish and wildlife resources from both a federal and state level. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has worked closely with Bernhardt for more than a year during his role as both deputy Secretary and now acting secretary.

“CSF praises President Trump’s nomination of Bernhardt to lead the Interior Department,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “He has demonstrated being a true advocate for sportsmen and women across the country by working with the community throughout this career in natural resources management, and implementing Secretarial Orders that promote sportsmen’s access to public lands.”

Bernhardt was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of the Interior in July 2017. Since, he has worked with the sportsmen’s community by joining meetings with conservation leaders to discuss policy priorities and attending events to show his support for the community.

He has also assisted with carrying out recommendations from the newly formed Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council (HSSCC), a federal advisory council charged with providing recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to benefit wildlife, public partnerships, and the hunting and shooting sports. Crane currently serves as Chairman of the HSSCC.

Ducks Unlimited (DU), a leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation, also applauded the choice.

“I have known and worked with David Bernhardt for more than a decade and we are excited to continue to work with him as the new Secretary of the Interior,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. “His integrity in following the law is beyond reproach. David Bernhardt is a champion of conservation and the right person for the job. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm him.”

Said Backcountry Hunters and Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney of the announcement:

“David Bernhardt has been part of the Trump administration and consequently has played a key role in actions undertaken by the Interior Department over the past two years. We trust that as a public servant bound to uphold Interior’s mission and the responsible management of natural resources, he will utilize the best available science to guide decisions that strike a balance between resource development and conservation. Hunters and anglers encourage Mr. Bernhardt to advance proactive policies that elevate considerations for important fish and wildlife habitat, maintain migratory corridor connectivity and enhance public access.”

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, also voiced concern.

“Defenders of Wildlife is deeply concerned that Acting Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, who helped preside over the Trump administration’s destructive policies on our public lands and wildlife for the past two years, is being nominated for Interior Secretary. The Department of the Interior badly needs new leadership to restore the public’s trust after Secretary Zinke’s departure, but David Bernhardt will just expand on the failed policies and the ethical challenges that have plagued the leadership of the department from the beginning of this administration.”

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