AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Secretary Salazar Issues Secretarial Order to Better Protect the National Mall

On heels of inauguration, Order helps ensure “America's Front Lawn” can continue to host 25+ million visitors a year, First Amendment and special events

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today issued a Secretarial Order to help ensure that the National Mall remains healthy in years to come and can accommodate millions of visitors and numerous special events, such as President Obama's inauguration earlier this week that attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

“We have made major investments in the National Mall over the past few years so that ‘America's Front Lawn' is fit to welcome visitors from around the world to our nation's capital and to host historic events such as presidential inaugurations,” Salazar said. “This order supports the National Park Service's work to protect this national treasure and to keep it healthy and beautiful for all to enjoy.”

Today's announcement complements the larger National Mall Plan which was implemented in 2010 after a thorough public comment process. As part of the multi-phase plan to revitalize the Mall, the National Park Service has completed a number of projects, including the restoration of the Lincoln Reflecting Pool, repair of the Tidal Basin seawall at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and restoration of the DC War Memorial.

Most recently, the National Park Service completed a major rehabilitation of the Mall between 3rd and 7th Street. This innovative project includes a new drainage and irrigation system, underground cisterns to capture and allow reuse of rainwater and an engineered soil system to help resist compaction. The Service will soon replace turf on the Mall between 7th and 14th.

The National Park Service is taking a number of steps to protect the sod, including temporarily fencing off areas and laying down protective flooring for major events. The Secretarial Order will help reduce further wear and tear on the Mall as visitation grows from 25 million annually to an expected 42 million in next 20 years. “The National Mall presents a special challenge for the National Park Service,” said Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We want millions of people to freely enjoy the National Mall and to gather together there to exercise their First Amendment rights. And we want this historic landscape to be an enduring and attractive place worthy of a premier national park that celebrates our national heritage and ideals. This Secretarial Order will enable us to balance those two objectives through state-of-the-art turf management and other actions.”

“We are grateful for the Secretary's leadership in ensuring that visitors will be able to enjoy the Mall today and for generations to come,” said Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust for the National Mall, the official non-profit partner of the National Mall. “These steps are a smart investment in a more sustainable, usable and beautiful Mall.”

The Secretarial Order directs the National Park Service to implement a multi-faceted preservation strategy that manages and sustains the high levels of diverse use by taking actions, including:

  • Increasing non-turf areas to better accommodate the use of temporary structures for appropriate permitted activities and increase the desirability of those areas by providing access to electricity, water, and communications.

  • Developing professional staff to identify and implement best practices for turf management and to develop public use permits that take those turf management concerns into consideration.

  • Structuring special events to protect resources, reduce impacts, and working with event organizers to identify suitable locations for events which will facilitate their activities and protect the cultural and historic resources of the park.

  • Ensuring the Mall is restored to its original condition following events, including requiring organizers to provide proof of sufficient funds to rehabilitate or replace damaged turf and resources.

“This is a huge step forward in ensuring this historic landscape lives up to the expectations of the American people,” said Bob Vogel, Superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks.

For the full text of the Secretarial issue, click here (for a signed PDF) or here (for a plain text pdf).


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