Sally Jewell is a leader in the outdoor industry. As Secretary of the Interior, she oversees all of our national parks, monuments, refuges and other protected lands.
About ten years ago, when she was CEO of REI, I had the pleasure of kayaking with her in San Diego. During her six years at REI, our paths crossed often, and her contagious positivity and can-do attitude left a lasting impression on me.
That afternoon in Mission Bay was no different. Strong headwinds had put an on-time arrival at a dinner meeting in peril. But instead of cutting short or turning back, Sally Jewell, with a quick smile and a strong stroke, led the way forward, as she still does today in Washington.
So I wasn’t surprised to see her progress in the recently released U.S. Department of the Interior’s Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2015. The report is a glowing summary of why she is perfect for the job: her ability to be a good steward of the land while at the same time delivering economic progress.
In 2015, investments made by the Interior in conservation, recreation, water and renewable energy led to $106 billion in economic output and supported 862,000 jobs.
All in, her efforts in leading the Interior Department account for about $300 billion in economic output and 1.8 million jobs that are supported by the Interior’s activities including:
- Outdoor recreation in our national parks, monuments, and refuges
- Water management
- Wildlife conservation
- Hunting and fishing
- Support for Native American tribal communities
- Scientific research and innovation
All of this occurred while visitation to public lands managed by the Interior (such as national parks and national wildlife refuges) grew by 20 million in 2015. That’s a total of 443 million visits.
Find Your Park
With the National Park system’s centennial occurring this summer, you can be sure that number will continue to grow (visit the NPS website to find the park nearest you).
But Secretary Jewell’s contributions aren’t limited just to economic benefits. The National Park Foundation, of which she serves as Board Chair, has an incredible initiative called Every Kid in a Park, which provides free passes to our park systems for all fourth graders.
The Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program is also raising funds to support children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have access to a park. It’s programs like these and the Boy Scouts of America that are crucial to opening the eyes and minds of children across the country.
As a member of the outdoor industry for over 20 years, I’m very proud to have one of our own rise to the occasion and help lead our country to a more environmentally conscious space with such amazing financial repercussions! Sally Jewell is a leader that we all look up to.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can view the report and a data visualization tool here: https://my.usgs.gov/doidv/index.html