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What Trump's pick for the Interior Department means for California




A photo provided by The Trust for Public Land shows Ackerson Meadow in Yosemite National Park, Calif. National Parks like Yosemite are overseen by the Department of the Interior.
A photo provided by The Trust for Public Land shows Ackerson Meadow in Yosemite National Park, Calif. National Parks like Yosemite are overseen by the Department of the Interior.
Robb Hirsch/AP

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Think of some of the top issues here in the West: water, public parks, energy, ocean resources. A lot of those fall – at least in large part – under the Department of the Interior. And Donald Trump's pick to head the agency will have a lot of influence. Trump's choice is Ryan Zinke, a first-term Republican representative from Montana.

That choice, if confirmed by the Senate, could carry big implications for the Golden State, where about half the land in the state is public, said Jon Christensen at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

"Parks, energy, endangered species – those are the big issues for California," he said. The Interior Department can wield great influence over all of these areas.

Zinke calls himself a "Teddy Roosevelt" Republican, in reference to the former president credited with preserving public lands, but the Montana lawmaker has also received dismal ratings – just 3 percent over his career – from the League of Conservation Voters.

"We'll really have to wait and see how it develops," said Christensen.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue media player above.