“Ken Salazar for Colorado” signs were introduced in his successful campaign for Colorado attorney general in 1998. The signs continued in the same design during his campaign for the United States Senate, where he defeated Pete Coors.
One can say that the signs and their repeated use in campaigns for two different offices became like lucky charms that appeared to add something to help produce victory. There was something in the signs that projected a sense of authenticity that seem to resonate with the public.
If you look closely at one of those signs you notice the drawing of a farmhouse, a silo and a water windmill among other images on the lower right hand side. In the lower middle area are the words “Fighting for Colorado’s Land, Water and People.”
In the lower left side is a similar space left blank as if to indicate a future to be fulfilled by those things on the drawing and what is spelled out in words. Altogether the words and images define Salazar’s character and announce his contributions to Colorado and the country.
It is in Salazar’s DNA to be concerned about the land, water and the things that have made the land of his ancestors and family great and worth saving for future generations. When Don Juan de Ońate y Salazar led the expedition from Zacatecas to Chihuahua to New Mexico in 1598, he set the tone for a special bonding between these beautiful lands and the descendants of those original settlers.
Salazar comes from the San Luis Valley, the northernmost outpost of the New Mexican momentum to settle the land that began in 1598. His defense of what makes Colorado special comes from 414 years of being part of a relationship where water and land come together to reinvent that world time and again.
In 1986 Salazar joined the Romer administration as chief legal counsel. This was followed by his appointment in 1990 as director of the Department of Natural Resources where he authored the Great Outdoors Colorado Amendment that created “a massive land conservation program.”
On Jan. 20, 2009 President Obama’s nomination of Salazar was confirm by the United States Senate to become the 50th secretary of the Interior. As secretary, he oversees the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wild Life Service, the United States Geological Survey and the Bureau of Indian Affairs among others.
Secretary Salazar finds himself in the middle of everything that has been of special interest to him and his family for generations. Land, water and people are the major pieces of his responsibility.
In the second year in his tenure, Secretary Salazar was severely tested. On April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Macondo well blew up in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 men, spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil and doing extensive damage to wildlife and the beaches of several southern states before being capped three months later. Human activity has again turned the world on itself.
Human activity is also at the center of global warming that threatens to change our lives forever. It is people like Salazar who love the earth and its environment that we should have to lead our way out of these difficulties.