The following is an excerpt from the March 29 issue of Public Lands News (sub.req.).
Instead of immediately laying out a set of concrete proposals the administration said it would first listen to interest groups and the American people. Said Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, “The conference is a great chance to learn about these efforts, start a new dialogue about conservation in America, and find ways to further the work that is already going on in cities and towns, counties and states throughout the country.”
If and when the initiative is fleshed out, insiders believe it could include:
* the designation of a number of national monuments on BLM land,
* full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund,
* revitalization of the National Park System in time for its 100th Anniversary in 2016,
* an omnibus public lands and parks bill (as is in the works now in Congress), or
* all of the above.
The source of the billions of dollars to accomplish such ambitious goals will be most controversial and has not been identified publicly. However, Salazar has said in a dozen Congressional hearings that he has his eye on offshore oil and gas royalties. And, perhaps, on a sharp increase in onshore oil and gas royalties...
The Obama administration chose Friday afternoon – the burial ground for unpopular announcements – to reveal its plans for an America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
Hosting the White House conference will be Salazar, Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley.
Perhaps the administration wanted to downplay the announcement because of the furor caused by an internal Interior Department review of possible BLM monument designations. The monuments controversy was touched off February 18 by the release by House Republicans of an Interior Department document that suggested the administration was evaluating 14 BLM-managed areas as possible national monuments...