Friday, February 18, 2011

President Obama Announces Plan for Community-Based Conservation through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Logo of the United States White House, especia...Image via WikipediaWASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama today announced the
Administration’s action plan, under the America’s Great Outdoors
initiative, to achieve lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces that
power our nation’s economy, shape our culture, and build our outdoor
traditions. By making the Federal Government a better partner with
American communities, this initiative seeks to reinvigorate our approach
to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the
lands and waters that are used for farming and ranching, hunting and
fishing, and for families to spend quality time together.  Recognizing
that many of these places and resources are disappearing and under intense
pressure, the President established the America’s Great Outdoors
Initiative last April to work with the American people in developing a
conservation and recreation agenda that makes sense for the 21st century.

Recognizing that the best ideas come from outside Washington, the report
released today outlines ways in which the Federal Government will help
empower local communities to accomplish their conservation and recreation
priorities. Last summer, senior Administration officials held 51 listening
sessions across the country to gather input from Americans about the
outdoor places and activities that they value most.  These sessions drew
more than 10,000 participants and more than 105,000 written comments,
shaping an action plan that, based on local initiatives and support, when
implemented will result in:

Accessible parks or green spaces for our children.
A new generation of great urban parks and community green spaces.
Newly-restored river restorations and recreational “blueways” that power
economic revitalization in communities.
Stronger support for farmers, ranchers, and private landowners that help
protect rural landscapes and provide access for recreation.
The reinvestment of revenues from oil and gas extraction into the
permanent protection of parks, open spaces, wildlife habitat, and access
for recreational activities.
A 21st century conservation ethic that builds on local ideas and solutions
for environmental stewardship and connecting to our historic, cultural,
and natural heritage.

“With children spending half as much time outside as their parents did,
and with many Americans living in urban areas without safe access to green
space, connecting to the outdoors is more important than ever for the
economic and physical health of our communities,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair
of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “Through the
America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, this Administration will work
together with communities to ensure clean and accessible lands and waters,
thriving outdoor cultures and economies, and healthy and active youth.”

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is born out of a conversation
with the American people about what matters most to them about the places
where they live, work, and play,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
said. “It’s about practical, common-sense ideas from the American people
on how our natural, cultural, and historic resources can help us be a more
competitive, stronger, and healthier nation. Together, we are adapting our
conservation strategies to meet the challenges of today and empowering
communities to protect and preserve our working lands and natural
landscapes for generations to come.”

“America’s farmlands and woodlands help fuel our economy and create jobs
across the rural areas of our country,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack. “This plan seeks to work in partnership with landowners,
conservation groups, states and others to conserve our working lands and
our public lands and to reconnect Americans – especially our nation’s
youth – with opportunities to stay active.  This blueprint was developed
with input from the over 100,000 Americans in all corners of our country
who joined our national listening sessions and who contributed their ideas

“This initiative is an effort to reconnect Americans with the valuable
resources all around them and shape a 21st century plan for protecting our
great outdoors,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “It is important
that our waters, lands and greenspaces are brought back into our daily
lives. President Obama’s initiative will help make these critical
resources a national focus once again, and involve people of every
background in conservation of the places that we hold dear.”

Specific recommendations and actions in the report include:

Calling for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which
directs Federal revenue from oil and gas extraction for national, state
and local conservation and recreation projects.
Establishing a 21st century Conservation Service Corps to engage young
Americans in public lands and water restoration.
Extending the deduction for conservation easement donations on private
lands beyond 2011.
Establishing an America’s Great Outdoors National Recreational Blueways
Trails initiative to designate community-scale portions of rivers as
recreational destinations that receive special attention for restoration
and access.
Supporting collaborative efforts to conserve large landscapes across
working lands by targeting resources from incentive-based programs.
Increasing outdoor recreational opportunities and access.
Establishing an interagency America’s Great Outdoors Council to ensure
Federal agencies collaborate efficiently on conservation and recreation
Launching the Partnership for Americas Great Outdoors, a non-governmental
body that will focus on forming strategic conservation partnerships across
communities, businesses and governments.
Partnering with communities throughout the country to establish and expand
urban parks and green spaces and to build on large landscape conservation

The full report and additional information is available at:

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