Salazar: A Passion for Conservation
When I first ran for public office, I adopted as my campaign theme, “Fighting for Colorado’s Land, Water and People.” Genuinely rooted in my life experiences, working on a farm and cattle ranch, laboring in the outdoors built the foundation of those core values and became a major focus throughout my career. It has led to inspiring experiences and taught me great and humbling lessons.
I have spent a lifetime working to protect America’s legacy in conservation, recreation, and preservation. In my time as Secretary of the Interior, United States Senator, Colorado Attorney General, Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and in the creation of Great Outdoors Colorado, I have attempted to make the case that jobs and economic development are supported by conservation efforts, open and working lands – our great outdoors. Indeed, outdoor recreation and preservation account for millions of jobs in the United States.
As Americans, we should all be proud of the legacy given to us by President Theodore Roosevelt and many others who have made the United States the conservation leader of the world. Continuing this legacy requires new stewards: each generation needs people who will fight to protect the land today, and for the future.
One of the many Americans who have taken up the mantle as a conservation leader for this generation is Louis Bacon. Louis has dedicated his time and resources to restore, preserve and hone best practices on his own lands, and to help the likes of the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust Alliance, and other national and local land trusts and conservation groups to protect our working lands, public spaces, wildlife habitat, rivers and streams.
In his personal life and through The Moore Charitable Foundation, I know Louis pursues two simple and equally important passions: the love of nature, and the desire and willingness to protect it.
His actions demonstrate that caring for and protecting the environment is a goal around which everyone can rally. A unifying force, conserving land and cultural resources for our children and future generations is neither a liberal nor a conservative value. It’s not Republican or Democratic, urban or rural. Instead, nature is character defining for all.
While serving as Secretary of the Interior, I worked directly with Louis as he initiated the first action to establish the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area by placing approximately 167,000 acres of the Trinchera Blanca Ranch under conservation easements with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. His steadfast commitment to conservation allowed us to begin preservation of a huge mosaic of public and private lands in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado — creating one of the longest landscape corridors in the nation. As a result, one of the most beautiful landscapes in America will stay that way for a very long time.
This collaborative experience further reinforced my belief that locally-based, long-term conservation plans have multiple, cascading benefits – and require vision and strategy. As any farmer, business owner or homemaker can tell you, a lack of planning and foresight leads to all sorts of problems – the same is true in conservation. Trying to save the last open space, the last wetland, the last habitat, the last landscape is no short-term venture. We’ve learned over the years that haphazard conservation efforts are rarely if ever as successful as well-planned efforts that bring everyone to the table. Cooperation is key to successful conservation that lasts for generations.
By working together to protect large open spaces, waters and wildlife corridors, we improve quality of life, preserve our heritage and culture, and stimulate and protect our economy.
I have had the fortune of meeting many great and successful conservationists who have dedicated time and resources to preserving open space and working lands, and I am proud to have worked with Louis to help preserve some of the most stunning lands in our nation. It doesn’t matter where you come from – what does matter is your passion to fight for what you believe in.
It is exciting to be the first to post in this blog space, which we hope will become a platform for leading thought on conservation, advocacy and action. I look forward to learning from others who share my desire to fight for land, water and people. I hope you will invite others to join these conversations and advance the causes you care about.
Kenneth Lee Salazar served as the 50th United States Secretary of the Interior, in the administration of President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a United States Senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, he served as Attorney General of Colorado from 1999 to 2005.