Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visits Kings Canyon National Park

KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK (KFSN) -- Visitors from around the world are impressed by Kings Canyon National Park, especially its giant sequoias.

"It's really huge, like this, and huge," visitor Elsa Retif exclaimed.

"We don't have that in Europe, in France," Axel Retif added. "We don't have trees that tall. That are huge, very impressive."

Another impressed visitor is the new Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who came to see some of the property he is in charge of.

"I have a great job," he said. "Great office and I got great people."

The new interior secretary is a former military man. He said he wanted to get right on the front line of things and he did. He actually suited up as a firefighter and helped set controlled burns inside Kings Canyon National Park.

"But we have got to make sure we have a program that looks at our dead and dying trees and restores the health of our forests. And these professionals behind me have a lot to do with it," Zinke said.

As Secretary of the Interior, Zinke is responsible for a million square miles of public land, a quarter of the United States, and is pledging to resist fellow Republicans who want to sell some of it off.

"And, up front, I am not about to sell or transfer public lands," he said.

It's a stand which has landed him in a controversy with Native Americans. He just killed an Obama Administration plan to transfer or return the National Bison Range in Montana to local Indian tribes.

Before being picked as President Donald Trump's Interior Secretary, Zinke served 23 years as a Navy SEAL and one term as the congressman from Montana.

He arrived in Washington cowboy style, riding a horse to his first day on the job.

Zinke's close ties to the fossil fuel industry and a pipeline company have raised concerns among environmental groups, but as an avid outdoorsman, Zinke says he will be a good steward of these public lands.

"We want to be helpful, and I know exactly who my boss is the American people," he said. "So, I work for you and "I'm glad to do it."
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