A new order issued Friday by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will help protect the turf of the National Mall, while still allowing large public events to be staged on "America's Front Lawn." Salazar recently announced his resignation.
“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 in a press release.
The Special Order would allow the National Park Service to continue to improve the quality of the sod through temporarily fencing off areas and laying down protective flooring as well as other means.
“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," Director of the NPS Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a press release.
Among other actions, the Secretarial Order call for:
• 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.