To help mark the centennial of the National Park System, Secretary Jewell spoke today about the 100-year history of the Park System, but she also spoke about preserving Parks over the next century. Protecting the Parks for future generations, Jewell said, will require looking beyond Park boundaries in places like Moab, Utah. And it will require looking for solutions that move us beyond the conflicts that have traditionally characterized public land management in the West.
Nothing characterized those conflicts like the infamous “77 Leases” — an attempt by the Bush administration to open up vast expanses of iconic landscapes — some directly adjacent to Parks — to oil and gas development in the waning days of the last administration.
Sec. Jewell’s Interior has already taken an important step toward reversing irresponsible decisions like these by preparing “Master Leasing Plans” (MLPs) near Parks. MLPs are a common-sense, “smart from the start,” approach to planning that allows for oil and gas development, while protecting the characteristics of landscapes like Moab that make them valuable parks of the outdoor economy.
She recognized today the value of Interior’s new way of doing business through MLPs on public land — something for which Interior deserves our thanks, and that future administrations would do well to follow in order to avoid the mistakes and conflicts of the past.
While the final plan in Moab is still not completed, here’s some highlights of how those plans are working so far: