Amen, Madam Secretary. So should say all Americans who visit and care about our nation’s national parks, the jewels in the crown of the United States when it comes to showcasing out national resources.
And speaking of jewels, the call to action, to invest in and constantly protect and improve national parks, comes from Sally Jewell, since April the U.S. secretary of the Department of Interior, which is charged with taking care of the parks. Jewell, formerly the head of the outdoor gear giant REI, didn’t mince words in directing remarks squarely at Congress when she spoke out about the government shutdown.
“The real test of whether you support conservation is not what you say in a press conference when the cameras are rolling but whether you fight for it in the budget conference,” Jewell said. Enough, she said, of partisan confrontation and shutdowns. And she appropriately didn’t back down on Interior’s actions during the government shutdown, when national parks had to close, including the Grand Canyon. Basically, Jewell said you can’t shut down the government and expect that somehow parks will remain open.
North Carolina has no small interest here, with nine national parks, from Cape Hatteras to the Wright brothers memorial to Guilford Battlefield to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those places are obviously tourist draws, but they are incredibly valuable, sacred almost, footprints of our nation’s history.
So it’s vital that they, and other national parks, have a strong advocate, a powerful voice, in defense of their preservation. It appears that Sally Jewell is just such a person.