World / Politics

Zinke defends hiking national park fees amid flap over his travel spending


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has bristled under questioning by Democrats about his spending on travel as the Trump administration seeks deep cuts to conservation programs and fee increases at national parks.

Zinke testified about the White House’s proposed 2019 budget before a Senate committee Tuesday. The former Navy SEAL flashed with anger when Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington pressed him on whether he could justify hiking park entry fees after spending taxpayer money on private jet flights.

Zinke said he resented the senator’s question, which he called insulting and misleading. He said the three flights he took on private planes were all on aircraft driven by propellers, not jet engines.

Zinke has proposed sharply hiking entry fees during peak seasons at some of the nation’s most popular national parks.