Sally Jewell, head of the outdoor gear retailer REI, was confirmed this morning as the new secretary of the Interior Department, the agency that oversees the federal public, including national parks and wilderness areas.
Jewell will replace Coloradan Ken Salazar, who took over an Interior Department that the New York Times described as rife with “financial scandals and political malpractice,” epitomized by the lax industry oversite that was exposed by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Jewell will have her own challenges early on, including dealing with the massive federal funding cuts known as “sequestration,” which will remove $250 million from the Interior budget over the next six months. Already, the agency has reduced its youth summer employment programs to 15,000 workers, down from 22,600 last year. National parks in California will be hit by at least $7 million in funding cuts.