Jewell speech makes strong commitment to public lands
On October 31st, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell gave her first major speech on conservation. This was the strongest commitment to protecting public lands that we’ve seen from the Administration to date.
Brian O’Donnell, our Executive Director, responded, “We are encouraged and strongly supportive of the approach Secretary Jewell outlined on national monuments. With Congress proving unable to advance a conservation agenda, it is heartening to see Secretary Jewell lead on this issue.”
Jewell discussed that there are areas in our country, “where action can ensure that our nation’s stories and landscapes are honored, celebrated and preserved for the generations to come.” She also talked about how in her conversations with the President, it is clear that he believes that we have a moral obligation to the next generation to leave our land, water, and wildlife better than we found it. We couldn’t agree more.
She called on Congress to move beyond partisan gridlock and to pass public lands bills and to fully-fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 2015. She also laid out a path forward that includes balanced development and engaging and employing youth on our public lands.
But she also issued a challenge. The Administration “will not hold our breath forever” and that the President will take action should Congress fail to protect the places that Americans care about most.
Given that the last Congress was the first since World War II to not protect a single new acre of public land as a national park, monument or wilderness, this is a tough environment even for bipartisan conservation legislation.
As a demonstration of her leadership, Secretary Jewell committed to meeting with communities to evaluate opportunities for action. Wasting little time, Jewell is planning a visit to Mendocino County to meet with stakeholders and members of the public on November 8 to hear about the community’s vision for the continued protection of Point Arena Stornetta Public Lands, a significant and scenic area along the coastline in Northern California. We know the community is looking forward to talking with her and will share the outcome of the meeting with you next week!