1:22 am - Wednesday September 20, 2017

Salazar’s Legacy in Colorado and the West

President Obama’s second term began this week with Monday’s inauguration, but there are still some positions left to fill in the president’s Cabinet.

One such post is that of Interior Secretary. Colorado’s Ken Salazar announced last week he’d be stepping down as Secretary in March.

Garett Reppenhagen, Rocky Mountain West coordinator for the Vet Voice Foundation, says Colorado’s and the nation’s open spaces have fared well under Salazar’s leadership, and he hopes the next Secretary of the Interior will continue that legacy of balancing recreation and energy needs.

“Bringing together the natural-resource community, the land-conservation community, to really address what the community wants in Colorado and needs, as opposed to big oil and gas interests, I think is the right direction for Colorado.”

To date, there are seven open Cabinet positions. Obama has named John Kerry Secretary of State, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as Secretary of the Treasury and former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Nominations are pending for the Secretaries of Energy, Labor and Commerce as well as Interior.

The president said in his inaugural address that one hallmark of the upcoming term will be “inclusion.”

Tony Simmons, owner of Pagosa Brewing Company in Pagosa Springs, has seen at first hand how that can play out. He was impressed by the way Salazar involved Southwest Colorado communities before naming Chimney Rock as a National Monument.

“I’m really hoping that this collaborative effort done on this national, state and local level will be repeated with his successor.”

Simmons says the publicity about the new National Monument, and the tourists it brings, are helping his bottom line.

“As a local brewpub, we actually put together a special beer to commemorate the National Monument, and that’s been enormously well received both in Denver and even as far as Washington, D.C.”

Garett Reppenhagen says that for veterans, federal lands, which also include military memorials, are an important resource for recreation, remembrance and healing.

“It all comes from another military veteran, Teddy Roosevelt. His work in protecting America’s outdoors really shaped our country and what it is now.”

And he hopes that mission continues under the next Secretary of the Interior.

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