Public lands losing their caretakers
WASHINGTON — Just as Interior Secretary Sally Jewell started her job in April, her department was faced with across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Then there was the 16-day partial government shutdown last month, when the National Park Service took heat from Congress and the public for shuttering parks and monuments.
The shutdown served as a reminder of “what's at stake” for America's public lands, Jewell told a group on Thursday at the National Press Club, where she highlighted the importance of a conservation legacy amid budget cuts, tensions between development and conservation, and climate change.
“Do we want a legacy of shortsighted funding and partisan gridlock that we've witnessed in Congress over the last few years?” Jewell asked. “I don't think so.”
She called on Congress to pass a budget that does not cut funding to the Park Service, and to protect more public lands as national parks or wilderness areas, something it has not done since 2010.
“Our public lands are important in so many ways,” Jewell said. “They drive our economies, but they also drive things that fill the soul and help define who we are as a nation.”
But to leave such a legacy, she said, the administration needs to focus on engaging younger Americans, especially millennials, the people aged 18 to 33. That generation is the largest and most diverse in history, she said, but it is also the most urban.
“Research also shows that this generation cares deeply about the planet and wants to make a difference in their careers,” Jewell said, “yet they have grown up being more disconnected from the natural world than ever before.”
A third of Interior's workforce of 70,000 people is eligible to retire in the next five years, Jewell said. “What happens when we have a generation who has had little connection to our nation's public lands, yet they're suddenly in charge of taking care of them?” she asked.
She said the Interior Department plans to add 100,000 jobs and training opportunities over the next four years for young people, at a time when entry-level jobs have been severely affected by the sequester cuts, and many young people are entering a workforce where jobs are hard to find.
The new initiative will be funded by working with schools and communities, as well as corporate and nonprofit organizations, to raise the $20 million needed while the department faces budget pressures elsewhere.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police search for armed prisoner after Va. hospital escape
- Indiana officials try to quell backlash over religious freedom law
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- Music festivals say ‘no’ to fans’ selfie sticks
- Supreme Court allows Obamacare’s Medicare costs board to stand
- A revolt is growing as more people refuse to pay back student loans
- Federal agents charged with plundering online drug bazaar Silk Road
- 2nd suicide in a month jolts Missouri GOP
- Eased rules considered to add talent to military, Defense chief says
- U.S. parks cope with aging visitor base
- Cause unknown for attack on NSA gates by 2 men dressed as women