New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell traveled to a political lion’s den Friday (June 28) – a gathering in Park City, Utah, of Western governors who complained about federal control of public lands that make up much of the West and Alaska.
In a private moment, she won over the politicians with promises of collaboration, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.
Jewell devoted much of her prepared remarks to the importance of outdoor recreation as a major economic driver, even as many of the governors put their priority on energy development, the Modesto (Calif.) Bee reported.
“Finding the balance starts by understanding each other,” Jewell told Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who challenged her on the right use of public lands. “I can tell you that having spent quite a bit of time over the years in Moab, and hiking in Canyonlands and Arches, that balance to that community is healthy national parks that are well staffed, that can service the people.”
In other places of the West, balance means maintaining grazing rights for ranchers, she added.
Jewell took office in April. The former chief of Recreational Equipment Inc., a $2 billion retailer of outdoor gear, she represented a new face for a cabinet post more often associated with ranching or oil, gas and mining interests. On Friday, she made clear she was bringing a different perspective to the competing forces over use of the federal government’s vast lands.
Jewell has a varied background that includes a stint as petroleum engineer, and she gave a nod Friday to “more efficient” government approvals for oil and gas drilling. Delays in issuing drilling permits for lease sales emerged Friday as one of the biggest complaints voiced at the Western Governors Association annual meeting at a resort hotel in Park City.