Center for Rural Affairs applauds crucial first step.

The Center for Rural Affairs released the following statement regarding a Department of the Interior strategy that was announced today. The strategy outlines a key landscape-scale mitigation strategy to encourage smarter development on public lands.

"This strategy is a major step in the right direction for ensuring that development on public lands does not compromise the rural and small town way of life,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “ We applaud Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for listening to the chorus of voices from across the west who are concerned about the impacts of oil and gas development on public lands.”

By strengthening the agency's commitment to science-based, landscape level planning that seeks to avoid the gravest impacts to our land, air and water, Secretary Jewell and her Department have shown a keen understanding of the values that westerners place on public lands, Crabtree continued.

According to Crabtree, two weeks ago the Center for Rural Affairs led a delegation of western elected officials to Washington, D.C. to call for balancing energy development with other important uses on public lands. They presented Department of Interior officials with a letter addressed to Secretary Jewell and signed by 75 state legislators and county commissioners from seven western states asking for stronger policies to protect small towns and rural areas from the impacts of energy development (www.cfra.org/www.cfra.org/balanced-use-of-public-lands-letter).

“A key request made by that delegation was for a strong Secretarial Order placing as much value on the conservation, recreation and cultural resources on public lands as is given to energy development,” Crabtree explained. “The announcement of the strategy by Secretary Jewell is a huge step forward and demonstrates responsiveness by Secretary Jewell and the Administration on these issues. It also speaks highly of the effectiveness of the voices speaking out on this, especially the western elected officials who came together to push for balanced public land use and the delegation we took to DC to stand up on their behalf.”