Salazar wants federal version of Great Outdoors Colorado

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he hopes to use the Great Outdoors Colorado model on the federal level to protect scenic landscapes across the country.

Landscape protections are one of the “moonshots” that Salazar, a former Colorado senator, said he hoped to accomplish as he begins his tenure as the nation’s 50th Interior Department secretary.

Salazar, who was instrumental in 1992 in establishing the Great Outdoors Colorado program funded by proceeds from the Colorado Lottery, said he is looking for ways a similar federal program can be funded.

Colorado uses lottery proceeds to purchase lands and easements, and it supplements other efforts to keep lands in their natural state.

Among the possibilities, he said, were the Land and Water Conservation Fund, whose revenues have declined since it was established in the 1960s, and reforms to the federal mineral-royalties system.

Salazar reiterated his displeasure with commercial leasing rules for oil shale that were adopted by the Bush administration as its term closed.

In a meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C., and others across the country listening in by telephone, Salazar said he will take a second look at another Bush administration issue, allowing holders of concealed-weapons permits to carry weapons in national parks and monuments.

At the time it was adopted in December, Salazar said through his office that the Bush rule was “sensible.”

The question of allowing loaded weapons in parks is “one of those issues being put on a list that we will look at,” he said Wednesday.

Salazar, who is to visit Interior Department offices in Lakewood today, said he wanted to restore integrity and confidence in the department, which was battered last year by allegations that employees of one of its agencies, the Minerals Management Service, were cozy with industry representatives.

Salazar also stressed his interest in the Interior Department’s role in reaching the “energy independence that presidents Nixon and Carter talked about in the 1970s.”


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