(AP) Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says Congress needs to do more than talk when it comes to national parks, forests and other public lands.
In her first major address since taking office this spring, Jewell called on Congress to push for full funding for parks and other public lands in the federal budget.
"The real test of whether you support conservation is not what you say in a press conference when the cameras are rolling, but whether you fight for it in the budget conference," Jewell said.
In remarks prepared for delivery Thursday, Jewell said lawmakers should consider what conservation legacy they will leave for the next 50 or 100 years.
"We owe it to future generations to act," she said, adding that "short-sighted funding and partisan gridlock" were unacceptable.
During the 16-day government shutdown, national parks became a political symbol as lawmakers bickered over who was to blame for closing Grand Canyon National Park and other landmarks.
Republicans criticized the Obama administration for closing access to the open-air World War II Memorial on the National Mall after the government closed on Oct. 1. A crowd that included Republican lawmakers converged on the memorial at one point, pushing past barriers to protest the site's closure.
Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis defended placement of barricades at the World War II Memorial and other sites, saying that all but a dozen park service employees who work at the National Mall had been furloughed. The Park Service allowed veterans and their families to visit the memorial, Jarvis said.
Jewell said the Interior Department is working to strengthen landscape-level planning efforts to ensure balanced development on public lands.
The department is committed to carrying out President Barack Obama's plan to combat climate change, Jewell said, and 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.
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