On December 17, Senator Ken Salazar (CO) accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s nomination to become Secretary of the Interior in the next Administration. As Interior Secretary, Senator Salazar will oversee nearly 10 million acres of federal lands, parks, and forests and 73,000 federal employees – including many landscape architects. Salazar will also have jurisdiction over the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Geological Survey.
Recently in the Senate, Senator Salazar supported numerous pieces of legislation that would conserve important landscapes and protect water resources. Senator Salazar was an original cosponsor of the ASLA-supported S.1139, The National Landscape Conservation System Act of 2007, which would make all 26 million acres of the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) a permanent governmental entity, subject to Federal protection. In 2007, the Senator voted to override President Bush's veto of H.R. 1495, The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), legislation that authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out environmental protection and restoration and coastal and wetland preservation projects. Salazar has also been criticized for his support of S.3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which would end drilling protection on Florida’s Gulf Coast and open up 8 million acres around Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana coastlines for drilling.
On the state level, as the Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Salazar created the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Initiative, which ensured that $10 million in state lottery profits per year were allocated to land, water, and wildlife protection, outdoor recreation, and environmental education throughout Colorado.
Senator Salazar’s work on conservation and water resources issues has prompted the League of Conservation Voters to give him an 85% lifetime rating, and a 100% rating during the 110th Congress. Senator Salazar’s appointment as Secretary of Interior is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.