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Zinke to visit Salt Lake expo Friday for 'major' conservation announcement

SALT LAKE CITY — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will once again visit Utah, making a special appearance at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo on Friday at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

A release from the U.S. Department of Interior said Zinke will make a "major conservation announcement" and take questions from the media.

This will be Zinke's third visit to the Beehive State in under a year, with him first visiting last May to tour the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments as part of a review directed by President Donald Trump.

When Trump visited last December to issue proclamations downsizing the monuments, Zinke spoke at the state Capitol.

Zinke described the Bears Ears region as "drop-dead gorgeous" country and expressed concern over the size of the 1.35 million-acre monument declared by former President Barack Obama in December of 2016. He noted similar concerns about the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at 1.9 million acres and devoted much of his time hearing concerns from Garfield and Kane county leaders.

The accompanying reductions are under legal challenge by multiple organizations.

He is also behind a proposed massive reorganization of his department to streamline the various functions of multiple branches, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

During briefings he has held with multiple organizations, he's said some agencies would be better headquartered in the West such as Denver and Salt Lake City.

Last Friday, the Interior Department's associate deputy James Cason and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, hosted a meeting involving dozens of rural county commissioners from multiple states to hear concerns and detail the possible reorganization of the department.

Bishop, who chairs the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, and all five of his subcommittee chairmen, sent aletter to Zinke on Jan. 31 applauding the proposed reorganization plans.

The hunting and conservation expo began Thursday and continues through Sunday.