Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Secretary Jewell calls for "major course correction" in conservation

"We as a country need to make a major course correction in how we approach conservation to ensure a bright future for our public land and waters," Jewell said in a speech in Washington, D.C. Land grabs for development, population growth and climate change are to blame, she said. And smarter landscape-scale planning and attention to deteriorating park infrastructure are essential. The majority of people visiting national parks in Colorado and other Western states appear to be old and largely white, Jewell said. "Which means we haven't found a way to connect to the young people of today, who are more diverse, more tech-savvy and more disconnected from nature than ever before," she said. "We need to kick off the new century of American conservation by issuing a giant, open invitation to every American to visit their national parks and public lands." A new analysis by the nonprofit group Conservation Science Partners, based on satellite images and federal land data, found that natural areas are disappearing rapidly. Jewell said this group's "Disappearing West" report is alarming "because healthy, intact ecosystems are fundamental to the health of our nation." The degradation of nature and loss of natural land coincides with flare-ups in the movement to seize public lands. Jewell referred to the armed standoff in Oregon this year, a 41-day ordeal at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which exposed wide sentiments in Western states against federal control over activities on public land. Western politicians also have proposed sell-offs of public land and putting more federal land under state control. "This movement has propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hardworking public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are," Jewell said...more

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