Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday he will step down from his post in March. He’ll leave behind a number of initiatives that affected the way public land and wildlife are managed in the Pacific Northwest.
As Interior Secretary, Salazar cut the ribbon on the removal of the Elwha River dams in Olympic National Park. It’s the largest dam removal project in the world.
Some of Salazar’s other moves in the Northwest sparked more controversy. In 2009 he upheld a decision to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Idaho and parts of Oregon and Washington. In western Oregon, he invited scientists to experiment with ecological clear-cuts that mimic the effect of fire on the landscape. Those proved controversial, too.
And Salazar leaves unfinished business in Oregon’s Klamath Basin. He helped put together a deal that would remove four dams on the Klamath River and resolve fighting over water rights. But congress still hasn’t approved the agreement, so Salazar will leave office without signing it.
President Obama hasn’t announced who he will nominate to replace Salazar. But the post often goes to a westerner. Salazar’s predecessor under President Bush was former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
Pundits have calling former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire a top candidate for the job.
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