We were thrilled to learn today that President Obama has nominated REI CEO Sally Jewell to be his next Interior Secretary. Assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, Sally will oversee the Department of the Interior, which manages all Park Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service lands, totaling 507 million acres or 20 percent of the US land mass. In addition to setting conservation priorities for these lands, the Interior Department manages energy projects on federal lands and offshore areas that supply 28 percent of the nation’s energy production.
Previous Interior Secretaries have left historic legacies on the land. Bruce Babbitt, who served in the Clinton Administration, led efforts to designate 15 National Monuments and 14 National Conservation Areas. As President Johnson’s Interior Secretary, Stewart Udall oversaw the creation of four National Parks, six National Monuments, eight National Seashores, and 56 National Wildlife Refuges. Udall also played a lead role in passing the Wilderness Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, and the National Trail System Act. Times are different now, but Sally will be in a position to influence important conservation policy decisions.
It is notable that Obama chose a business leader for this position, as it usually goes to a prominent Western politician. We would be fortunate to have an Interior Secretary who knows the outdoor industry, and who has a long history of supporting The Conservation Alliance.
Here are a couple of links about the nomination: