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BUNKERVILLE, Nev. — Three years after a tense standoff between a Cliven Bundy-led militia and federal law enforcement agencies in the Southern Nevada desert, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the newly christened Gold Butte National Monument Sunday.

There weren’t any protests. No drama. No arrests.

While local wounds are still fresh, the scene was calm as Zinke spoke to a group of reporters on a private residence in Bunkerville, just miles from the site of the 2014 standoff near the Bundy family ranch.

“I’m not going to address that issue,” Zinke answered when asked if he had plans to round up cattle belonging to Bundy.

Zinke didn’t appear to be interested in rehashing the past, choosing instead to speak mostly about managing the land into the future. He stressed what he said is the importance of public access and ensuring any monument designation is “the smallest area compatible with protection of the object” — a phrase Zinke repeated several times throughout a 25-minute conversation with reporters.


“I’m an advocate for monuments,” he said. “I think the monument experience in our country, over our country’s history, has been positive.”

As part of his review of 27 national monuments, mandated through an executive order by President Trump, Zinke also visited Basin and Range National Monument during his visit to the Silver State. Basin and Range covers more than 700,000 acres in Lincoln and Nye counties.

In speaking with reporters, Zinke addressed concerns that the monument review might entail downsizing, which could leave formerly protected areas vulnerable to commercial development or mining.

“What I’ve learned in the monument…