Office of the Secretary March 10, 2006
Secretary Norton Announces Departure
Norton Era Emphasizes Cooperative Conservation and
Responsible Energy Development
WASHINGTON -- After five years of
leading cooperative conservation efforts and
responsible energy development, Interior Secretary
Gale A. Norton today announced she will leave the
President’s Cabinet at the end of March. In a
letter to President Bush, Secretary Norton thanked
the President, “for inviting me to be part of your
Administration for a meaningful and rewarding five
The letter reads in part:
“With your support and leadership,
your team at Interior has accomplished great work in
the face of hurricanes, record-setting wildfires and
droughts, acrimonious litigation, and expanded post
9-11 security responsibilities. The Interior
Department has conserved millions of acres of public
and private lands and steered the nation toward
cooperative conservation by working with landowners
and local groups. Hundreds of communities are
better protected from catastrophic wildfire. State
and local officials have a greater role in federal
land decisions affecting their jurisdictions. More
than 6,000 projects for improving our national parks
are completed or underway. Millions of Americans
have more certain water supplies through historic
agreements that are ending decades of uncertainty
and water conflicts in the West. We have
re-engineered our Indian trust system to provide
better service to beneficiaries. We are on track to
meet the tasks Congress and you set in the Energy
Policy Act of 2005.
“Mr. President, this department has
climbed the mountaintop in terms of achieving the
goals we set out to accomplish. In that process, I
have shaped six departmental budgets, encouraged
cooperative conservation in travel all across
America, implemented your management agenda and
testified in Congress many times.
“Now I feel it is time for me to leave
this mountain you gave me to climb, catch my breath,
then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the
private sector. Hopefully, my husband and I will
end up closer to the mountains we love in the West.”
Norton, 51, is the first woman to
serve as the Secretary of the Interior. She is the
48th Interior Secretary and has been in office
longer than all but six of her predecessors. Norton
was sworn in as Secretary on January 31, 2001.
After winning re-election, President Bush asked
Secretary Norton to continue serving in his
In the past year, Norton completed
nearly all of the goals that she had set to
accomplish. Congress passed the Energy Policy Act
of 2005 in July. The Department initiated the
first-ever White House Conference on Cooperative
Conservation in August. The House of
Representatives passed legislation to improve the
Endangered Species Act in September. In November,
Congress came within three votes of opening the 1002
area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to
responsible energy development. In February, at
Norton’s urging, the seven states of the Colorado
River Basin reached preliminary agreement on issues
that had been unresolved for decades. Also in
February, Secretary Norton released the draft
five-year plan for offshore energy development.
“There will never be a perfect time to
leave,” Norton wrote. “There is always more work to
do. My leaving now gives you the opportunity to
appoint a new Secretary to accomplish the goals you
set for the rest of your Administration,” Secretary
Norton wrote to the President.
Secretary Norton said she would leave
at the end of March, noting that the Senate took 34
days to confirm her after she had been nominated.
“I trust the Senate will move quickly
on the confirmation of my successor,” Norton said.
In her five years at Interior,
Secretary Norton’s focus has been to:
Encourage Cooperative Conservation throughout the
Implement the President’s Healthy Forests Initiative
Negotiate an end to decades-long water conflicts in
Improve national parks and wildlife refuges
Promote responsible energy development
Improve services to Indian country
Improve science for a changing world
Implement the President’s Management Agenda
Under Secretary Norton’s leadership,
the Interior Department has worked to:
Implement across the
United States the “4Cs”: Communication, Cooperation
and Consultation, all in the service of
The department has:
the first-ever White House Conference on Cooperative
Conservation, attended by four Cabinet Secretaries,
and more than a thousand conservation leaders where
new conservation partnerships emerged and practical
tools were identified that will facilitate
cooperative conservation of our nation’s lands and
Granted cooperating agency status to states and
local governments to give them a greater role in the
federal land use planning performed within their
Established effective working relationships with
state fish and game agencies. States submitted and
Interior approved wildlife management action plans.
five years, invested $2.1 billion in cooperative
conservation efforts that are typically matched by
non-federal contributions to have an even greater
Launched, through the Office of Surface Mining, the
Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative,
which, in the last two years, has led to the
planting of millions of trees on reclaimed mining
Helped restore or protect more than five million
acres of lands and 10,000 miles of stream and
shoreline miles through the voluntary initiative of
thousands of Americans across this nation.
2003, re-launched the Take Pride in America®
program, a partnership program that supports and
recognizes volunteers on public lands. Since 2003,
Take Pride volunteers have completed more than 5,000
volunteer projects on public lands in all parts of
implement the President’s Healthy Forests
This policy calls for active
management of public lands as the best means to
avoid catastrophic fires.
five years, Interior and the U.S. Forest Service
have thinned and treated more than 16 million acres,
making those acres and surrounding communities safer
from catastrophic fire.
With the U.S. Forest Service, the department created
the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, a federal,
state and local group that coordinates wildland fire
policy decision making.
At a time of record drought, successfully end
water conflicts in the West.
During the worst five years of
drought in the past five centuries, Secretary Norton
addressed areas of potential crises and negotiated
historic water agreements that will help supply
water to millions of Americans for decades to come.
Through these efforts, Interior has:
issues in dispute for more than 75 years when
California water users reached agreement with the
federal government and six other states on a
multi-decade agreement for sharing and using water
in the Colorado River.
on this success, Secretary Norton initiated the
process for seven Western states to establish water
transfers and conservation measures for decades to
come. In response, states have submitted detailed
consensus recommendations, including recommending
that interstate consultation will occur prior to any
with California, Arizona and Nevada, Interior
approved a $626 million, 50-year program to protect
river habitat for endangered species along and near
the Colorado River between Las Vegas and Mexico.
the Water 2025 program that funded 68 challenge
grants to address western water conflicts before
crises occur. Grants have been awarded in 16
states, potentially saving 285,000 acre-feet of
Expand and improve
national parks and wildlife refuges.
Norton’s five years, several national park units and
wildlife Refuges were created or significantly
expanded. They include:
National Park Service
Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, home to North
America’s tallest sand dunes, contains six mountains
taller than 13,000 feet and diverse wildlife habitat
and significant recreational opportunities.
and Clark National Historical Park in Washington and
Oregon combines state and national units into one
comprehensive park that preserves sites used by
America’s most famous explorers.
93 National Memorial commemorates the heroes aboard
the plane that was hijacked and subsequently crashed
on September 11, 2001.
Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park in
Virginia. This 3,500 acre park is a nationally
significant Civil War landscape and antebellum
Man Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.
This site illustrates the history of the Cold War
and the arms race.
Burial Ground National Monument in New York City is
a site that honors free and enslaved Africans who
lived and died in New York during the 1700s.
National Wildlife Refuges
National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. With 92,500
acres, this is Colorado’s largest national wildlife
Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota. This
35,000-acre refuge is the largest tall-grass prairie
and wetland restoration project in history. It is a
major waterfowl breeding and nesting area.
Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, once a national
defense site, formally joined the wildlife refuge
system on April 17, 2004. Another former national
defense site in Colorado, Rocky Flats, is in the
process of becoming a wildlife refuge next year.
In addition to these expansions,
billions of dollars were invested in national parks
and wildlife refuges. More than 6,000 facilities
maintenance projects have been completed or are
underway in national parks in the past five years.
President Bush’s commitment to invest nearly $5
billion in national parks is being fulfilled.
Examples of these investments include improving the
Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument and making
these safer from terrorist attack. Secretary Norton
also transferred 27 lighthouses to local community
groups dedicated to their preservation.
Promote responsible energy development to meet
America’s energy needs.
One-third of the oil, natural gas and
coal produced in the United States comes from
resources managed by the Department of the Interior.
Secretary Norton implemented the President’s 2001
National Energy Policy that calls for increased
environmentally responsible energy production, and
is implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Under Secretary Norton’s leadership,
the Interior Department:
and is implementing the 2002-2007 plan for offshore
oil and gas production. This plan is projected to
produce 22 billion barrels of oil and 61 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas. This is enough to fuel
every U.S. car and home for at least two years. In
FY 05 alone, Interior collected more than $10
billion in mineral revenue, most of that coming from
oil and gas production.
a new draft five-year plan for 2007-2012 that
proposes additional areas for offshore energy
double the number of permits to drill onshore for
oil and gas in the past five years when compared to
the previous five years.
almost 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas onshore
during 2001-2004, a 17% increase above the previous
Increased use of best management practices. These
are innovative environmental protection practices
that protect wildlife and landscapes by reducing the
footprint of energy development.
Led efforts to increase renewable energy on public
lands. Land use plans are being amended or revised
to accommodate wind energy development. The amount
of biomass offered for production of energy doubled
in one year, from 27,000 tons to 71,000 tons.
Increased coal production on multiple use lands in
the past four years by 22% when compared to the
previous four years.
been on track to meet all of the goals and tasks
established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This
includes conducting research and development oil
shale demonstration projects and providing
economically sound incentives to encourage
development of high-risk, high-cost areas in the
Gulf of Mexico.
Improve services to Indian country.
The Department has:
Invested $1.6 billion to replace 37 schools and
undertook major facility improvement and repair
projects at 45 schools. Ten replacements have been
completed and another 19 are scheduled to be
completed in 2006 and 2007. Nine major facility
improvement and repair projects have been completed
and another 25 are scheduled to be completed in 2006
After extensive consultation with Indian country,
reorganized the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the
Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians
to improve services to individual Indians and tribal
Successfully completed a negotiated rule making to
implement in Indian country the President’s No Child
Left Behind Act. This led to more than $33 million
in funding being awarded to improve student reading,
school performance and teacher quality in BIA-funded
Established a world-class underground archival
facility in Kansas to store and protect more than
250-million pages of electronically indexed Indian
Increased historical accounting of individual Indian
monies by the Department. This accounting has
provided ample evidence that monies collected for
individual Indians were, for the most part,
distributed to the correct recipients.
Improve science for a changing world.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in partnership with
other agencies, initiated an early detection effort
for highly pathogenic wildlife diseases where there
is a risk of infecting domestic animals or humans.
USGS just issued a study of the occurrences of
pesticides in streams and groundwater, concluding
that pesticides are typically present in streams in
urban and agricultural areas but less common in
groundwater. The report also concludes that
pesticides are seldom at concentrations likely to
a result of the 2004 Indonesian earthquake and
tsunami, the USGS implemented a new 24 hour/7 day a
week seismic operations system that cuts in half the
time required to report information about
earthquakes around the globe. This advanced warning
will help save lives.
USGS recently proposed a $2.2 million multi-hazards
initiative to merge information on different hazards
into integrated products to support land use
planning, hazards mitigation and emergency response.
During Hurricane Katrina, USGS employees used their
geographic information systems expertise to help
locate and rescue flood victims.
When Secretary Norton took office in 2001, it
routinely took five months to complete the annual
department audit. This year’s audit was completed
in 45 days – an accomplishment that exceeds
performance in most large corporations. The 2001
audit identified 17 significant management
weaknesses, and last year that number was reduced to
four. Interior eliminated more weaknesses than any
other federal department.
e-government, Interior consolidated 33 Internet
connections to just five centrally managed, secure
gateways and retired 171 duplicative systems.
Interior completed the first-ever strategic plan for
managing Interior’s more than 180,000 structural and
The department implemented proposals to save tax
dollars. Bureaus saved $65 million by consolidating
offices and locations and advancing information
For more information on Interior’s
efforts and accomplishments during Secretary
Norton’s tenure, visit:
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