Grijalva May Lead Interior, Plus Other News
Some assorted political news that may affect trails funding and wilderness here in Washington:
The latest buzz about the Obama transition is that Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is being vetted for the position of Secretary of Interior in the new Obama adminstration. The secretary oversees the department of the Interior, which includes the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. It's traditionally awarded to a westerner, and the position generally sets land-use policy (although the Secretary of Agriculture oversees the U.S. Forest Service). Grijalva has been a critic of the Bush administration's natural resources policies, recently issuing a paper critical of the past eight years. Among Grijalva's list of the Bush administrations "assaults" on public lands: pandering to the ORV industry, repeal of the Roadless Rule, gutting of Land and Water Conservation fund, declines in Forest Service budgets, and even the over-reliance on fees for access to public lands.
Washington's new lands commissioner will be Peter Goldmark, a rancher and environmentalist from Okanaogan. Goldmark, who will oversee policy for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), hasn't publicly said much about trails policy, but he has advocated a sustainable approach managing timber, wildfire, and water resources on DNR lands. You can read a bit more about Goldmark and outgoing commissioner Doug Sutherland here.
Now that Congressman Dave Reichert (R-8) will be returning to Washington, D.C., there's talk that his bill to add the Pratt River Valley and other lands to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness will get fast-tracked through Congress. With co-sponsors including Congressmen Dicks, Smith, Inslee, and Baird, it's increasingly likely this bill to add some 22,000 acres to one the most heavily-visited wilderness areas in the country will make its way to president Obama's desk in 2009.