Timothy Egan, on Sally Jewell, the nominee for Secretary of Interior

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DOI logoTimothy Egan has written for the New York Times a very thoughtful essay about President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Interior. If confirmed, Sally Jewell will oversee 500,000,000 acres of public land, including those managed by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and many other agencies within the department. At first glance, a former petroleum engineer and banker may seem like just the same old crap in Washington, but she is defined by much more than that, including being the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). Mr. Egan points out that “the outdoor recreational industry directly supports three times more jobs than the oil and gas sector. People who play in the American outdoors spend $646 billion a year, responsible for 6.1 million jobs.”

The well-funded lobbyists for Exxon and British Petroleum tend to out-shout the silent majority of the citizens who enjoy using our public lands and want their grandchildren to also have that opportunity.

If Mr. Egan’s name is familiar, you may remember that he is the author of “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America”, a book that tells the stories of the huge fires that burned across the northwest in 1910 — fires that killed 100 firefighters.

You should read the entire article in the New York Times, but here is how it begins:

The emperor of the American outdoors usually wears a cowboy hat, for the lashing dust and searing sun in the domain of the Interior Department, one-fifth of the United States. James Watt, the most small-minded head of that agency in modern times, wore one. So did Ken Salazar, the outgoing secretary.

Don’t expect to see Sally Jewell, who is President Obama’s nominee for Interior secretary, in a showy Stetson. Running shoes, yes. Climbing helmet, of course. Cycling tights, no doubt. If confirmed, Jewell would be one of the few directors of that vast department to actually share the passions of the majority of people who use the 500 million acres of public land under Interior’s control.

It’s not just that Jewell has climbed Mount Rainier, kayaked innumerable frothy waterways, skied and snowboarded double-diamond runs. Nor that, as chief executive of the nation’s largest consumer cooperative — Recreational Equipment Inc., the retailer known as REI — she knows that Americans spend more money on outdoor equipment than they do on pharmaceuticals or gasoline.

More information about Ms. Jewell was on Wildfire Today February, 6, 2013.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Timothy Egan, on Sally Jewell, the nominee for Secretary of Interior”

  1. Being a member of REI for 38 years, Ms Jewell will be welcome addition to the “both sides of conservation.

    Hopefully she will REMIND the land management agencies their true misiion in life………

    Responsible forest and range management
    A better and more lean contracting system
    Forest management and range management less intensive of technology forcing many land managers OUT of their offices
    Maybe responsible oil drilling

    How can the general public be wrong? How can everyone blame Bush for the dil drilling on Fed lands and Ignore the Obama record??

    Here’s to an REI leader and member…….who hopefully can set it straight without too much Mickey Mouse form the Beltway and the “we can’t do it that way” SES and GM types, who are more than likely the roadblock, espousing policy rather than thinking practically!!

    We can only hope…………………….


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