When Interior Secretary Sally Jewell took to the stage to speak at the National Press Club on Thursday, her underlying message was clear: The administration can't protect public lands and national parks unless Congress foots the bill.
"Congress needs to deliver a sustainable, thoughtful budget that supports our parks, our rivers ... and strengthens our economy," Jewell said. "Do we want a legacy of shortsighted funding and partisan gridlock? I don't think so."
The Interior secretary covered a range of topics, including the department's efforts to increase renewable-energy production on public lands—a directive issued under the president's Climate Action Plan—and roll out regulations for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.
She kept circling back, however, to the harm the government shutdown caused to public lands and the need for lawmakers to work together to pass an appropriations bill that will undo some of that damage.
Jewell called the shutdown "absurd" and "wasteful," and she catalogued the impact of the event on a variety of her department's offices while estimating local communities lost $76 million a day in revenue due to park closures.
Jewell also admonished Congress for not passing legislation to designate public land as either monuments or wilderness areas since 2010.
"The real test of conservation is not what you say at a press conference," she said, forcefully. "But whether you fight for it in the budget conference."