Zinke is a pro-coal politician from a coal-producing state. His ties to fossil fuel industries will limit his appeal with environmental groups who prioritize climate change as their main concern. Keep an eye on how he treats sagebrush country in the West, so critical for game like pronghorn, mule deer and sage grouse.
Over decades, Zinke watched the collapse of the timber industry in Montana and has often waxed nostalgic about returning loggers to the woods.
At the same time, he grew up in sight of Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. He cannot help but sense how these conserved wild lands are enormous economic engines for local communities.
Zinke's positions on LWCF makes perfect sense when you consider how important that law is for funding access to the outdoors. More than half of the fishing access sites in Montana, for example, were purchased at least in part with LWCF dollars, which funnels royalties from offshore drilling to habitat, recreation and access projects. America's national forests and other public lands are critical to America's hunting and fishing heritage, and Zinke knows that.