Jewell said there was "absolutely no political motive" in the shutdown of the 401 national park units, adding that Park Service workers and others in the Interior Department followed federal law requiring that employees limit their actions to those that protect life and property.
"We did the best we could," she said.
Jewell said the Interior Department is working to strengthen landscape-level planning efforts to ensure balanced development on public lands. She announced a strategy aimed at ensuring that energy projects include steps to mitigate a range of environmental impacts, from endangered species to climate change. The policy will use science and technology to advance conservation while allowing development to continue, she said.
"We know it doesn't have to be an either-or," Jewell said. The department has set a goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020. That's enough to power more than 5 million homes or businesses.
With about a third of Interior's 70,000 workers eligible to retire within five years, the department faces an urgent need for new generation of wildlife biologists, park rangers, scientists and other professionals, Jewell said.
"What happens when a generation who has little connection to our nation's public lands is suddenly in charge of taking care of them?" she asked.
Jewell laid out what she called ambitious goals to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for more than 10 million young people and 100,000 work and training opportunities in the next four years.
The department will work with businesses and non-profit organizations to raise up to $20 million in private funds to support those goals, Jewell said.
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