America’s Newest Conservation System, Salazar, and 120 Acres in Florida

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Florida. Courtesy of BLM.

In a ceremony little noticed outside of central Florida, the state’s historic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and surrounding mangroves were formally dedicated last month as part of the National Landscape Conservation System, which is the Bureau of Land Management’s version of the National Park System.

This event marked the first Outstanding Natural Area on the East Coast and celebrated an area where, according to a December 21 Palm Beach Post editorial in support of the dedication, “…you can exhale, let the world slow down and enjoy a slice of natural Florida.”

What this also marks is an indication of what is possible in 2009 under the strong leadership of Ken Salazar who has been nominated to be the head of the Interior Department.

As a senator, Salazar is a cosponsor of legislation to make the National Landscape Conservation System permanent. It is this system, like America’s other great conservation systems, the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Park System, which protects and holds so much promise for the future of our great American landscapes of natural and cultural significance.

The National Landscape Conservation System is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but it has yet to be officially established by Congress. In 2009 we have an opportunity under the leadership of Congress and Secretary nominee Salazar, to strengthen the National Landscape Conservation System by making it permanent and giving it a prominence at the Department of Interior.

The first weeks of 2009 will say much about our commitment to our last wild places. Let’s hope Congress passes much needed public lands legislation and that Mr. Salazar is confirmed by the Senate.

photo: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Florida. Courtesy of BLM.