Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
OGDEN — Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell sees one reason why Utahns love their state.
"Utah is a pretty extraordinary place when it comes to outdoor recreation. You're so lucky," she said. "You've got a lot here to preserve, to protect, to celebrate."
The secretary spoke Thursday at the Intermountain Sustainability Summit hosted by Weber State University. The summit focused on aspects of sustainability advancements and challenges that span throughout the state.
"I've learned that sustainability is a team sport," Jewell said. "The only way you make progress is by sharing good ideas, by sharing good science and doing things collectively."
Jewell announced plans of Utah's Bureau of Land Management offices to look at development more broadly, to look at what community members believe are areas suitable for development, and what areas need to be preserved.
"We want to be thoughtful in how we manage these landscapes," she said. "We want to be a partner with local communities, with counties, with cities, with states in understanding what's important to them. We also want to work with you on being good stewards of lands that are in the federal trust."
More than 2,100 Utahns are employed by the Department of the Interior, which oversees the management of more than 500 million acres of land across the U.S.
Utah's national parks were also a focus of Jewell's address. A recent evaluation by the Department of the Interior concluded that Utah's national parks earn about $613 million in visitor spending and support more than 9,400 jobs statewide.
Jewell expressed her hope that the youth will become more involved with public land management and sustainability.
"One might call it the ultimate act of sustainability — that is, to nurture and create the next generation of outdoor stewards and those who really care about sustainability and the lands," she said. "We want millions of children playing on public lands. That connection when you get to that mountaintop just behind us — it's powerful, it's visceral, it's something we want to make sure other people share. But a lot of kids aren't getting that experience."
C. Arden Pope, professor of economics at BYU, also spoke at the opening of the summit, addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with air quality.
Pope emphasized that while the costs of mitigating air pollution are high, the benefits that can be attained from improved air quality are much higher.
In addition to driving cleaner vehicles, Utahns' involvement in public policy will help to clear the air.
"As individuals, we have the responsibility to support and participate in public policy efforts," he said. "In the end, we're all breathing the same air."
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