Secretary of Interior Kenneth Salazar called Jamaica Bay “one of the great urban parks of America,” but asked caretakers to think creatively about the parkland’s future.
Salazar made the statements during a July 26 harbor summit, hosted by National Parks Service and the Harbor Conservancy. Regional leaders gathered to discuss how government, nonprofit and industry can work together to achieve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan, which includes Jamaica Bay.
“I believe that America is at a time when we can embark and embrace a new agenda for conservation for America,” Salazar told the audince. “And I think that here in New York and New York Harbor we can move forward and create what will be a star relative to the great urban parks of America in the 21st century. I think the assets are here, I think the vision is here I think the New York Harbor Conservancy has done a lot to move us all forward.”
The Secretary of the Interior continued to discuss great ideas emerging from other United States park systems, especially in California, where town, city, state and federal partnerships are paying off to implement creative visions of the future for resources like the Santa Monica Mountain Recreation Area.
In a location like New York City, he said, the potential is even greater.
“In my view, as we move forward the conservation agenda of our time, the importance of our great urban parks will be a key feature of that because that’s where our people live here in America today, and there is probably no greater population and no greater opportunity than what you all have here in New York,” he said. “So the question we had here … is how can we all work together so that the united efforts not only produce a great vision for the New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Raritan and Hudson rivers, but how do we make it a reality? Are we organized in the right way?”
Salazar tasked the audience with thinking outside the box in how to utilize resources like the Army Corps of Engineers, and creating the best configuration possible between local, state and federal authorities.
He noted, as well, that we’re in a new era of conservation awareness, in which the brightest potential can be realized.
“We have learned a lot about rivers and waterways and how we as a country have come a long way in how we look at rivers and waterways,” he said. “It wasn’t so long ago … where we as citizens and governments turned our backs on the rivers. They were the places to dump things, the wastelands of our countries. Yet In the last 10, 15 years we’ve watched our society turn our faces to our rivers and embrace them for all that they can bring to us.”