The statement by former Secretary of the Interior, Gayle Norton, struck a chord here at the Recreation HQ. As the current Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, advocates for more lands to be set aside as National Parks or under some other preservation-oriented designation, Norton highlights what many federal and state land managers are seeing and that is the public’s interest in “active recreation.”
Norton who served under President George W. Bush was quoted in an Energy and Environment article today where she commented on protective land designations for passive use or non-entry… That doesn't necessarily mean protection under the National Park Service. Other agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, also are entrusted with conserving nationally important land… the "full spectrum" of public lands should be considered in any discussion on how to solve the Park Service's budget shortfall while ensuring land is preserved.
For example, some lands might do better under BLM, which spends less per acre of conserved land, she said. People today want to see active recreation. They like the mountain bikes. They like ATVs. They want to bring their dogs along. They want to travel off into areas that are not as populated…Those are all available on BLM lands and not in national parks.
This will be an interesting discussion to watch as federal and state government officials (elected and appointed) review current and potential recreational opportunities on park lands through the prism of declining budgets and growing maintenance backlogs.