With Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announcing his resignation recently, effective at the end of March, more than one river conservation organizations will be mourning his loss.
“Secretary Salazar has been a true champion for protecting and restoring rivers and his leadership will be missed by everyone who cares about healthy, free-flowing rivers,” says Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.
“He’s leaving an impressive legacy. From the Connecticut River to the Congaree in South Carolina, from the Crown of the Continent in Montana to the Penobscot in Maine, future generations will enjoy healthy free-flowing rivers, thanks to Secretary Salazar’s hard work, vision, and leadership.”
As well as filling Salazar’s position, President Obama will have two other major environmental positions to fill. Last month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Jane Lubchenco, also announced their resignations.
All three are leaving for similar reasons, wishing to return to private life. Salazar will return to his home in Colorado. “Colorado is and will always be my home. I look forward to returning to my family and Colorado after eight years in Washington, D.C.,” says Salazar. “I am forever grateful to President Obama for his friendship in the U.S. Senate and the opportunity he gave me to serve as a member of his cabinet during this historic presidency.”
“I’ve had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier, ushering in a conservation agenda for the 21st century, and honoring our word to the nation’s first Americans,” he adds. “I thank the more than 70,000 employees at the Department for their dedication to our mission as custodians of America’s natural and cultural resources. I look forward to helping my successor in a seamless transition in the months ahead.”
While Salazar’s time at the DOI was spent largely on dealing with the BP/Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, one of his biggest contributions was setting aside hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the western United States for future solar and wind power development. That, and continuing to champion our nation’s clean, free-flowing waterways, of which there’s still much work to be done.
“The work to protect and restore America’s rivers is not finished,” says Irvin, whose group has helped protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. “The next Secretary of the Interior should continue the work begun by Secretary Salazar to remove obsolete and unsafe dams, establish blue trails on our rivers to promote recreation and grow local economies, and assist communities in protecting and restoring their rivers.”