Wilderness Society Praises Salazar for Climate Initiative

Sep 14, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Wilderness Society today praised Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for his leadership and vision in creating the Interior Department’s first-ever coordinated strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on America’s lands, waters, oceans, fish, wildlife, and cultural resources.

“With today’s announcement, Secretary Salazar has made a commitment to make the adaptation of our natural resources to global warming a major federal priority for the rest of this century,” said Bill Meadows, President of The Wilderness Society. “It is time to start the lengthy process of reconnecting our fragmented landscapes, recognizing that public and private lands play a key role in preserving clean water, clean air, and the viability of diverse animal and plant populations that allow those ecosystems to protect us all. Now it’s time for other federal agencies to follow Secretary Salazar’s lead.”

The secretarial order signed today creates a new Climate Change Response Council, led by the Interior Department’s Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Counselor. The new council will coordinate the department’s response to the impacts of climate change within and among eight regional Climate Change Response Centers, serving Alaska and the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, West, Northwest, and Pacific regions. A network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will engage Interior and federal agencies, local and state partners, and the public to craft practical, landscape-level strategies for managing climate change impacts within the eight regions.

“Secretary Salazar deserves praise for recognizing that climate change waits for no one, and that the impacts of global warming on our public land and water resources could be very widespread and very serious,” Meadows said. “Secretary Salazar also recognizes that he can’t do this alone. Tackling this issue will require unprecedented cooperation, not just within the Interior Department, but also with other land management authorities such as the Forest Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy,” Meadows noted. “We will only make progress if every agency shares the commitment to address climate change at a landscape level. There is no substitute for this kind of leadership.”