By Adam Aasen
Photos by Allison Mayer
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Carmel on Thursday to help promote renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund – the 50-year-old program that allows for funding to protect lands for parks across the country.
Jewell met with Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard and toured the Flowing Well Park, the city’s first park which was created through funding help from this very program.
It is parks like these that make an impact in people’s lives, something the secretary hopes members of Congress will remember.
“When you look at this park,” she said overlooking the creek, “you see that this isn’t abstract. This is very tangible. This park is very real.”
The park, which is located off of 116th Street and Gray Road, features an artisan well, believed to be found in 1904. Carmel residents are known to stop by and fill their water jugs at the park, which sits on 47 acres. It was in the late 1980s that the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped with the $75,000 needed to found the park. Brainard said he thinks it would be valued at a quarter of a million dollars today.
“It was funding from that program which allowed us to make this parkland more accessible to the public through the addition of trails, bridges and parking,” he said. “This transformed an Artesian Well into the Flowing Well Park, with more than a mile of trail through a heavily wooded section of our city.”
Brainard met Jewell while he was visiting the White House as a member of the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
Jewell is traveling the country to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is set to expire soon. Established in 1964, the program does not use taxpayer dollars. Instead, its primary revenue source comes from a portion of federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. Only once has Congress appropriated funding at the full authorized level of $900 million. And often pundits have criticized Congress for raiding this fund for other pet projects.
“As we look to the next fifty years, we need to ensure that we continue this great legacy by fully and permanently funding this innovative program,” Jewell said.
Brainard emphasized that he feels supporting the parks system is not a partisan issue and that he hasn’t met a Democrat or a Republican that doesn’t enjoy Carmel’s parks.
“History shows us that caring for our precious resources has been a priority for great presidents of both parties, and I hope it always will be,” he said.