Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Announces New Policies for Balancing Conservation and Economic Development of Public Lands and Resources

Secretary declares improved science-based policies and processes to mitigate development impacts on natural areas and protect land, air, and water

October 31, 2013

ARLINGTON, VA (October 31, 2013) — Speaking at the National Press Club today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell discussed the Administration’s conservation agenda. The policies aim to expand opportunities for the American people to enjoy outdoor recreation and the wonders of nature.

In her remarks, she announced a Secretarial Order that will improve how the Department of the Interior balances economic development with the protection of valuable natural resources.

“I am issuing my first Secretarial Order to ensure that whenever our public lands or resources are impacted by development activity, that we are also considering how to mitigate those impacts at a landscape level through strategic conservation and restoration,” stated the Secretary. “This Secretarial Order is about good government. It will help Interior create a simpler, more straightforward approach for businesses to be good partners and good stewards of our public lands. Project proponents will be able to invest with certainty and clarity in their projects and support the region’s environmental needs, rather than ad-hoc, project-by-project mitigation efforts. And by guiding development to the areas of highest resource value and lowest environmental concern, we can reduce the likelihood of conflict and costly delays.”

The Nature Conservancy applauded the announcement.

“The Conservancy fully supports Secretary Jewell’s Secretarial Order to apply a landscape-scale approach to meeting the Department’s multiple responsibilities, including more effective science-based mitigation policies and practices,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Managing Director of Public Policy Lynn Scarlett, who was in attendance and congratulated the Secretary in person after her speech. “We are confident that we will see this initiative quickly reflected in the agency’s planning and management activities, and we will work in any way we can to assist in making that happen,” added Scarlett.

Secretary Jewell’s emphasis on using a landscape-scale approach and more effective, science-based methods to avoid, minimize, and offset the impacts of development signals an important step forward in managing public lands.

The Nature Conservancy’s Scarlett explained, “As our economy recovers and new sources of energy are being tapped, we are experiencing an acceleration of economic development in this country, including on public lands. The Secretarial Order announced today will be an important milestone in efforts to strike the right balance between needed development and protecting our natural resources and the outdoor recreational opportunities provided by public lands.”

The speech included other notable remarks, including a call for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enhances parks and open spaces across the country. The Fund seeks to balance the use of one natural resource—oil and gas—with the conservation of another by using a portion of drilling fees to protect important land and water resources. But despite an increase in energy production, funding for land and water protection has been low and unpredictable.

Finally, Jewell also announced an initiative “to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.”

The Nature Conservancy fully supports these initiatives, and will work to advance them as well as the landmark mitigation policies set forth in the Secretarial Order.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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