Recommendations for Interior Department could lead to better protection for public lands

Apr 10, 2014

A report on landscape-based mitigation released by the Interior Department Energy and Climate Change Task Force, “A Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of The Department of the Interior,”  provides a blueprint for better protection for fish, wildlife, recreation and wild land values for the tens of millions of acres of public lands open to oil and gas and other energy development. The report, called for in Secretarial Order 3330 issued last fall, identifies principles and key steps for better mitigating the impacts from energy projects by avoiding, reducing and offsetting damage and better balancing conservation and development.

The following statement is from Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society:

“This welcomed report proposes a comprehensive approach that will guide the Interior Department agencies to both avoid and offset impacts to wild lands and other special places when development occurs. If implemented effectively, this shift can help agencies fulfill their conservation mission while accommodating appropriate energy development.

In the past, the Interior Department’s approach to development, especially energy development, was more reactive to the demands of developers, often leaving stewardship and protection of lands with high wildlife, water and wilderness values as an afterthought. This new method – emphasizing a landscape-scale approach to managing our public lands and the values on them - should help put conservation on more equal footing with development, and help protect the world-class wildlife, wildland and recreational opportunities found in these special places.

We commend Secretary Jewell’s leadership in taking steps to modernize policies and practices to ensure our public lands can provide energy American needs while protecting the places we love. The time is right for Interior agencies to manage for a 21st Century America by bringing better balance between conservation and development.”

Chase Huntley