Secretary of Interior Jewell's kids-in-outdoors order honors Seattle's Doug Walker
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell as found a way to honor the legacy of Seattle entrepreneur-climber-philanthropist Doug Walker, victim of an avalanche two months ago on Granite Mountain east of North Bend.
She is cutting red tape from green destinations.
Jewell issued a secretary's order on Friday, telling land-management agencies to decrease barriers and make it easier for disadvantaged, disabled and at-risk young people to access America's public lands and waters.
The action honors Walker, who made getting young people into the outdoors one of his (many) priority causes.
"Doug Walker taught us that many at-risk young people stand at a crossroads where a connection to our public lands can literally change the direction of their lives," said Jewell. "I can't think of a more fitting way to honor his life and legacy than making it easier to welcome young people to the great outdoors."
Jewell is a former CEO of Recreational Equipment, Inc., while Walker served as board chairman.
The order tells such agencies as the National Parks Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to make it easier for groups of young people to get permits and head for the hills -- or waters.
The U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Department of Agriculture, is being given similar marching orders.
The Northwest has been a laboratory for getting today's iPhone addicted young people back into the back country.
The North Cascades Institute, in particular, has run a successful program. Urban young people from around the country use a center on Diablo Lake to learn about ecosystems, wildlife and preservation in mountains often dubbed the "American Alps."
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., climbed the 13,766-foot Grand Teton in Wyoming with Walker, a break from raising money for her 2012 reelection campaign.
"I applaud Secretary Jewell, along with the Forest Service, for opening the door to hundreds of youth and youth organizations like the Seattle YMCA to experience one of the most rewarding opportunities of American life," said Cantwell.
Walker had "an inspiring passion" for youth outdoor activities," Cantwell added. Or as a Walker friend, Zumiez CEO Tom Campion, put it Friday. "It's a great honor. He (Walker) was awesome."
Persons and groups working to introduce disadvantaged and at-risk youth to public lands have complained about the difficulty of obtaining permits, particularly for multi-day trips into the back country.
They've faced significant fees, commercial use authorizations and other administrative requirements.
The Jewell order lays down actions to increase access to lands and waters managed by the Interior Department. Those who stand to benefit are visitors under 26 and in groups of which at least 70 percent of the participants are disadvantaged or (in government jargon) "under-resourced."
"By streamlining the permitting process, we can knock down barriers that stand in the way of welcoming young people to enjoy, explore and experience nature," Jewell said.