Interior Secretary Norton Resigns
Interior Secretary Gale Norton is heading back West, leaving Washington, D.C., and her job behind.
In a two-page resignation letter she gave President Bush, the Interior secretary said that, "Now I feel it is time for me to leave this mountain you gave me to climb, catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector."
Her resignation, effective at month's end, comes three months after one of her top deputies, Craig Manson, who oversaw fish, wildlife and parks for the department, left his post.
Secretary Norton, a former attorney general for the state of Colorado and a former attorney for the conservative, pro-multiple-use Mountain States Legal Foundation, has led the Bush administration's push to open public lands in the West to more oil and gas exploration.
It will be interesting to see who succeeds Secretary Norton, and how the change affects efforts to rewrite the National Park Service's Management Policies.
With that in mind, National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan issued this reaction to Secretary Norton's announcement:
"The National Parks Conservation Association wishes Secretary Gale Norton well in her new endeavors. According to a recent Harris Poll, national parks top the list of federal programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, which the American people support. It is important that the administration nominates and Congress confirms a new secretary who shares this respect and commitment to our national parks.
"We hope and expect that the new secretary will fulfill President Bush's pledge to eliminate the maintenance and resource protection backlog and 'restore and renew' our national parks. In March 2005, the Congressional Research Service estimated that the backlog now totals $4.5 to $9.7 billion; research shows that the parks' chronic annual operating shortfall, which preceded this administration, exceeds $600 million annually.
"Additionally, the new secretary should set aside the department's deeply flawed effort to rewrite the protective Management Policies that govern our national parks. The American public and many members of Congress have requested that this process be abandoned and strong Management Policies remain in place to ensure that our national treasures endure for generations of Americans to come."
Here's a link to not just Secretary Norton's letter of resignation, but also her sense of accomplishments with the Bush administration.