NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 22, 2006

Gale Norton's tenure as Secretary of the Interior ends March 31. In her five-years, Norton turned the virtuous idea of grass-roots conservation into workable reality and a blueprint for subsequent conservation policy, says the Washington Times. Building interest in conservation for the people who use the land -- be they farmers, ranchers, sportsmen or other outdoor enthusiasts -- creates a lasting conservation effort, and Norton's policies build on this foundation.

Under Norton's leadership:

  • The government restored five million acres of land -- largely wetlands and forest habitats -- and 10,000 miles of rivers and stream.
  • The national park system grew to include the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and an expanded Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Ten times as many permits were issued for wind and geothermal energy as the second term of the Clinton administration, and half of America's geothermal energy now comes from public land.
  • Manpower increased, while cutting some of the paperwork and bureaucratic applications for drilling permits flow much more expeditiously.

The Healthy Forest Initiative is an example of one of Norton's unfairly maligned and mischaracterized policies. People often criticize the initiative -- which thins dangerously dense forests in states like California, Arizona and Colorado -- as granting more invasive timber rights to logging companies. Although the effect takes several decades, this program will significantly reduce the number of forest fires, says the Times.

Source: Editorial, "Gale Norton's Stewardship," Washington Times, March 20, 2006.


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