The White House Conference on Conservation will meet tomorrow (March 2) to discuss the progress of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative launched by President Obama nearly two years ago and strategies for growing America’s outdoor heritage and economy.
According to a press release, the event will be hosted by Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works).
Breakout sessions will focus on tourism and recreation, urban open spaces, “Let’s Move Outside,” and several other pertinent topics.
The administration’s first White House Conference on Conservation met in April 2010 and addressed land conservation and expanding federally administered public land systems. This session will focus much more on the economic benefits of parks and the Great Outdoors.
To mark the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the launch of the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today (April 22) announced a schedule of free admission days to many of the lands managed by the department, according to a news release.
All national parks, national wildlife refuges and many areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management will offer free admission on June 5-6, Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25 (Public Lands Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). These dates are in addition to the previously announced free admission at all 392 national parks April 17-25 as part of the celebration of National Park Week.
“President Obama has made connecting Americans to the outdoors and our history a fundamental goal of the conservation initiative announced at Friday’s White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors,” said Salazar.
“The Interior Department was proud to host that conference and will be even prouder to host Americans who want to get outdoors to visit their public lands.”
America’s public lands offer opportunities to engage in healthy, outdoor activities, whether for a few hours or a few days. More details about fee free days and activities are available for:
- National parks at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
- National wildlife refuges at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/.
- Bureau of Land Management areas at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/Recreation/BLM_Fee_Free_Days.html.
“What better way to celebrate this Earth Day than to make it easier for all Americans to experience the breathtaking landscapes, amazing creatures, and the stories that make up our shared heritage,” added Salazar. “By getting outdoors, we remind ourselves of our blessings and of the responsibility we all have to pass these lands on to our children and our grandchildren.”
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon was in attendance as a delegate at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors on Friday ( April 16) at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., where President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
Coon joined leaders representing the recreation, sporting, conservation, farming, ranching, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from the nation’s 53 states and territories. He participated in his role as vice chairman of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).
Coon applauded the new initiative saying, “America’s public lands and green spaces are favorite destinations for the nation’s millions of RV enthusiasts. This new effort will help protect these natural treasures, encourage more outdoor recreation, and improve access to these areas. We look forward to working with President Obama on this effort.”
The Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative calls on the secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to lead the Initiative, in coordination with the departments of Defense, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Education and the Office of Management and Budget.
The Initiative will support a 21st century conservation agenda that builds on successes in communities across the country, and will start a national dialogue about conservation that supports the efforts of private citizens and local communities.
“Since President Theodore Roosevelt held the first White House conference on conservation in 1908, we as Americans have taken extraordinary steps to protect our land, water, wildlife, and history for future generations, but today the places we love face new challenges that require new ideas and new strategies to solve,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative will start a much-needed dialogue about conservation in our country so that we can hear directly from Americans about the places they care about and how they are working to protect them. This is about listening, learning, and finding common-sense ways to support the good work that is happening in communities across the country.”
“Today, with 80% of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for people to have access to outdoor space. Just as we cherish our childhood memories of hiking and sledding, fishing and camping, and just as we enjoy spending time outdoors with our families, we must guard these places and traditions for new generations,” said CEQ Chairwoman Nancy Sutley. “Through this initiative we hope to identify new opportunities to work with Americans on a modern approach to conservation that begins at the ground level, and to reinvigorate the national conversation about our outdoors.”
“President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative will play an important role in confronting the serious challenges our natural resources face today: climate change, air and water pollution, landscape fragmentation and loss of open space,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This effort will bring Americans from across the country together to look for new approaches to protect our national treasures. And it will highlight the importance of working across ownership boundaries to restore and conserve both private and public lands in a way that recognizes that conservation and economic vitality are inextricably linked.”