The Mountain-Climbing Cabinet Secretary

ABC News' David Kerley takes a hike in Acadia National Park with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to discuss her work protecting the nation's wilderness.
4:08 | 09/07/14

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Transcript for The Mountain-Climbing Cabinet Secretary
We're going to turn to the "Sunday spotlight." Shining today on sally Jewell. The interior secretary went from running one of America's most popular retailers to safeguarding our natural wonders. Now she's working on ways to excite our kids about them, too. David Kerley hiked with her. Reporter: They are our natural beauties. Pieces of America preserved for all of us. Interior secretary sally Jewell calls this the forever business. This is your second home, the outdoors? This is my favorite office. Favorite playground, the one with no walls. Reporter: We're hiking Maine's acadia national park. 1 of the 400 parks the secretary oversees. A little more than a year ago, Jewell was selling backpacks, as the CEO of rei. Now she's landlord for one-fifth of our country's land. It's her first ever government job, which had a rough start, a government shutdown that closed parks and sent workers home. It's a gotcha kind of place. Very, very different from the private sector. Reporter: Partisan bickering that has her yearning for 50 years ago. When republicans and democrats joined together for the creation of the wilderness act. Lands where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. President Lyndon Johnson made it the law of the land. It was so visionary. It was saying -- people need to have areas where we can be guardians, not gardeners. Reporter: More than 100 million wilderness acres already. This morning, Jewell and the administration have more than 100 wilderness requests in congress. There are special places that need additional levels of protection. Reporter: It's not getting done. Well, not much is getting done in congress right now. Reporter: The outdoors have been part of her life since her family immigrated from England when she was 3. One of the reasons I took this job was because I wanted to be part of the solution to climate change. Reporter: She's also an oil and gas engineer. It seems like there's a conflict. Continue to bring out oil, gas, and coal, yet we need to cut carbon. How do you do both? We can't transition to a renewable energy economy overnight. We're department on coal. We're department on oil and gas. Reporter: There are many environmentalists who think you're not doing enough. This job is full of absolutes on both sides. Those that are more involved in just drill, baby, drill, let's not worry about it. And those that believe we have to change things overnight. The truth is, we can't have either. We have to work together on common ground to move forward. That's what my job is about. Reporter: And she keeps moving. She's summited the highest peak. In antarctica. And she and I share an experience, standing on the top of Washington's Mt. Ranier. You got up there on your own two feet? Yeah. It puts the world in perspective a little bit. I like to think, a lot of these things I can see are national parklands. They're protected. Reporter: A view she hopes to save forever. For "This week" and ABC news, David Kerley. Just beautiful. And now, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the name of one soldier killed in Afghanistan. And that is all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World news" tonight this evening. I'll see you tomorrow on "Gma."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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