Zinke's New Outdoor Recreation Panel Dominated by Industry Execs
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has assembled a new outdoor recreation advisory panel dominated by top executives from the industry.
The 15-member "Made in America" Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee will advise Sec. Zinke on issues surrounding public lands. They include officials that represent fishing, shooting sports, motorized vehicles and hospitality as well as national park concessionaires.
"The Made in America Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee is made up of the private sector's best and brightest to tackle some of our biggest public lands infrastructure and access challenges," Zinke announced Monday.
"The committee's collective experience as entrepreneurs and business leaders provide (sic) unique insight that is often lost in the federal government."
The Washington Post reported that Zinke did not appoint committee nominees offered by the Outdoor Industry Association, which advocates for activities such as mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking. The association has criticized President Trump's decision last year to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah.
The only member who does not come from the outdoor recreation industry is Linda Craighead, the assistant secretary of parks and tourism at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. But as the Post observed, her LinkedIn profile indicates she is pro-business; in her current job she has "implemented key business strategies to transition the state park system from dependence on state funding to a self-sufficient business model while enhancing the natural, cultural, recreational and educational aspects of the parks."
The panel includes three people whom department officials flagged as potentially having a conflict of interest on the matter, according to documents obtained by the Post.
The Post reported:
During the recent selection process for the Made in America panel, Interior staffers color-coded [Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition and counselor for the National Park Hospitality Association], along with those of Bruce Fears, president of Aramark Leisure, and Jeremy Jacobs Jr., co-chief executive of Delaware North, for having potential conflicts of interest. The document places Crandall in the category of "individuals who advocate for and represent the interests of NPS concessioners" and Fears and Jacobs as "current concessioners with the NPS."
Both Aramark and Delaware North rank among the Park Service's biggest concessionaires: Aramark has a $2 billion contract to operate concessions at Yosemite National Park, while Delaware North runs concessions at Shenandoah, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
This is not the first time Zinke has created an advisory panel filled with business representatives. Most members of the Royalty Policy Committee come from the oil, gas and mining industries. The new International Wildlife Conservation Council is mainly comprised of trophy hunters and individuals with ties to President Trump's oldest son, who is an avid hunter.
Why Trump’s New Trophy Hunting Council Is a Disaster https://t.co/nea5KgbSaD @WWF @Defenders @MercyForAnimals— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1521223128.0
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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