What Will Obama Do For Public Lands?
Well, it's been a long and historic political campaign, and now that it's over, we'll all begin sorting out what it means for the future.
In terms of trails and wilderness, it's too early to speculate exactly what an Obama administration will mean for public lands. I've posted previously on the buzz about who might be the next Secretary of the Interior to succeed Dirk Kempthorne.
The Obama campaign did release a document on forest policy, which included support for ending the practice of borrowing from Forest Service budgets to pay for fire suppression efforts. You can read the campaign's fact sheet on wildfire management here. If they can follow through, that's good news for recreation budgets, which have been hammered by ballooning firefighting costs.
In addition, the FLAME Act, which would create a new, dedicated fund for fighting fires (outside of standard Forest Service budget) will probably keep its momentum next year, witha Democratic Congress and administration. The act, which was sponsored in part by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), would create a new funding source for dealing with catastrophic fires.
In other news, the race for Washington state public lands commissioner is still up in the air, with Peter Goldmark narrowly leading incumbent Doug Sutherland. The state's public lands commissioner manages the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which includes many places familiar to hikers, including Mount Si, Greider Lakes, and Gothic Basin. Hikers should keep a close eye on this race.