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Conservationists: Haaland Fights for Public Lands, Natural Resources

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Conservationists in Maine say Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., will work to restore public lands and natural resources as Secretary of the Interior, if she's confirmed by the Senate.

She would also be the nation's first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary, as an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna.

John Banks, director of the Natural Resources Department for the Penobscot Indian Nation and a tribal citizen, said not only does Haaland have experience in fighting for public lands in Congress, but also in business, and developing earth-friendly business policies.

"It's great, especially for Indian Country, but good news for everybody," Banks contended. "I think she brings a very, very deep commitment to the proper management and development of tribal lands and public lands."

Banks also argued her example of bipartisanship in Congress has been critical.

She recently helped secure passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and America's Conservation Enhancement Act, legislation to conserve public lands and waters while also expanding access to recreation.

Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said Haaland's work on congressional committees including the Natural Resources Committee and the National Parks, Forests and Lands Subcommittee showed she is ready to take on The Department of the Interior's complex responsibilities.

"She understands climate action, she understands the importance of a clean-energy transition and getting good-paying jobs. She understands parks and public lands," Pohlmann remarked.

Pohlmann noted the Department has often failed to consult with tribes or indigenous communities when enacting policies that impact them regarding public lands.

She indicated Haaland's commitment to respecting tribal sovereignty is key to reversing that trend.


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