For an indoor secretary, getting outside is a job description.
It’s hard to find Sally jerell in her Washington, d.c. office.
As secretary of the interior for more than a year, she spent a lot of time in the field. The heads of federal agencies that oversee about 400 national parks and nearly 300 million acres of federal land are inevitable.
“It’s in the job description,” she said. “It’s an interesting part of the job.”
During a recent visit jamestown, Virginia, the first successful English colony and colony part of the national historic park, Jewell witnessed the recent storm in high water on the damage done by historic and cultural relics.
Jamestown is a low-lying area that has been disappearing for several years.
“We consider the economic impact of storms and rising sea levels and how we feel about climate change,” Jewell said. “I don’t think we’re always thinking about the impact on our history and culture, and our definition as a nation, and in jamestown, all of these things are really together.”
Jewell is a 58, as you might expect people to be hiking, climbing, kayaking and REI, a retailer that used to run outdoors. Her extensive business experience, including banking and energy, has made her unusual in the Obama administration.
“There are some fundamental differences between the government and the private sector. I know more today than I did a year ago.”
One of these fundamental differences, says Jewell, is risk. In business, even if you fail, you are often rewarded for taking risks. Not in government, she says.
“In government, try something new, if you make a mistake, you’re a drug at some sort of congressional hearing, and people say, ‘why did you take that risk? So convince your team that they need to think differently, they need to take risks, and that’s what they never get. ”
Jewell said that one of the risks she encouraged her department to take was a private sector initiative aimed at getting young people involved in outdoor activities.
“The rewards are phenomenal,” says Jewell. “It provides potential future career of these young people with maps, they had never heard of, they never know before, they will always planted trees with them or where they are connected to the work I do.”
Jewell’s other setback was the ongoing complaints in Washington about the glacial pace of the senate confirmation process. Ms. Jewell said she said her one-year term was four years, and that most of her assistant secretarial positions were “constantly changing,” with no deputies from July to the end of February. Then, she said, the nomination was unanimously confirmed. “So it’s not controversial, it’s a dysfunction.”
The department’s broad responsibilities include managing the 300 million acres of federal land. This spring, the agency’s land authority, after refusing to pay his grazing fees, tried to remove the cattle of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher, from federal land, triggering a highly politicized affair.
This has led to an armed standoff between bundy supporters and federal law enforcement. Jewell defends the BLM’s activities.
“For people who are open and deliberately not paying fees, it will hurt the compliance of other ranchers,” she said. “We can’t support it, we won’t support it.”
It is not clear what the government’s next move is in the bundy case, but jell says her job is to carry out the ministry’s mission. She said her previous business experience could help her do that, and she found “very willing to accept this view” at the White House.