NPCA sent the following letter of support to the United States Senate ahead of the hearing to consider the nomination of Deb Haaland for Secreatary of the Interior.
Our national parks are symbols of conservation, historic preservation and heritage we share with all Americans. In the last four years, as we witnessed weakened protection for cultural resources, wildlife, waterways and the list goes on, the highest level of protection was not afforded to these incredible places. We can and must do better. The Biden-Harris Administration must address climate change head-on, ensure the federal government – and the park system – is welcoming to diverse communities, and reverse damaging policies that put at risk the water, air, wildlife and other resources that make our parks world-renowned.
As Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland will play a crucial role in guiding the National Park Service (NPS) and protecting and enhancing our National Park System. In her role as chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands during the 116th Congress, she consistently demonstrated a passion for and understanding of the national parks. Her experience leading hearings on deferred maintenance, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and legislation that will better protect cultural resources and artifacts as well as COVID impacts on communities prove not only her knowledge on these subjects but a willingness to take on the challenges faced by our national parks. And her support of the Great American Outdoors Act helped get that historic bill across the finish line. As Secretary, she will play a crucial role in ensuring the vision outlined in that legislation is fully realized.
The stewardship responsibilities of the Interior Secretary extend well beyond park boundaries, overseeing nearly 500 million acres of federal lands and more than 1.5 billion acres of offshore waters. Representative Haaland’s introduction of the Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature shows she is ready to face the very real threat of climate change head on. She will also be called on to ensure NPS’s sister agencies make decisions that take into account the impact on park resources – whether it’s protecting the cultural landscape surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park from destructive oil and gas development or ensuring the 600 threatened and endangered species with habitat in national parks have the resources necessary to achieve recovery.
Representative Haaland will ensure peoples’ voices are heard, including those who have been historically underrepresented, when making decisions about lands that belong to all of us. NPS-Tribal relationships, in particular, are critical to understanding and creating a more inclusive future for our parks and public lands from Gates of the Arctic National Park and Alaska Native communities, to Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet, to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park and the Muscogee Creek. Haaland’s leadership will no doubt help to improve the government-to-government relationship between DOI and Tribal communities across the country.
The full story of America cannot be contained in a textbook or housed within a museum. The over 400 national parks, preserves, historic sites, seashores and more that comprise the National Park System begin to tell the story of the United States and its people. It is America’s legacy to future generations and to the world. But this story is still incomplete, and its chapters often face revision at the hands of environmental, ideological and human threats.
Representative Haaland has proven throughout her career that she will be ready on day one to take on the enormous task to protect our national parks and public lands for the benefit of all Americans. She is ready to address the challenges our public lands face with bold solutions and will fight to protect our heritage.
We look forward to working with Deb Haaland to ensure the best future for our national parks and urge you to support her nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
For More Information
Legislative Director, Government Affairs