Editor’s Note: The following release comes from Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).
Last April, President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative at a White House Conference in Washington and charged the secretaries of the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda which would strengthen the connection between Americans and the outdoors.
Over the summer, senior administration officials held 51 listening sessions and received over 105,000 comments, sharing ideas about approaches to protect U.S. lands and waters, connect Americans to the outdoors and to our natural heritage and to empower local communities to protect and restore the places they love. ARC has played an active role in this effort, leading the campaign to highlight the link between health and the outdoors and promoting innovative partnerships.
The report, originally due in November, will be released next week by the President in the East Room of the White House, on Feb. 16. We’ll be there.
The report follows the release of the President’s FY2012 budget proposal. That would indicate that there are some new initiatives included in the AGO report. Hill reception to new spending is likely to be guarded – but we are hopeful that the AGO proposals are based on ways the Great Outdoors can boost regional economies and reduce healthcare costs.
The recent White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors focused on the OBama administration reconnecting Americans to the benefits of outdoor recreation that will help draw more attention to the benefits of all types of outdoor recreation including camping, according to the ARVC Report from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
Protecting and promoting great urban parks and treasured landscapes thus reconnecting Americans to the land through outdoor recreation drew strong support from leaders in the outdoor industry attending the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors Friday, the report said. The Obama administration organized the event to tout a national conservation and recreation initiative as good for Americans and America.
According to the report, spotlighting the link between America’s Great Outdoors and economic recovery, President Obama said, “Conservation is not contrary to economic growth. It is an integral part to economic growth.”
The president pledged to get Americans active and outdoors and to “encourage young people to hike and bike and get outside more often.” And in support of active Americans, the president called for a “new generation of community and urban parks.”
The president said launching America’s Great Outdoors is “the right thing to do for our economy.”
“It’s how we’re going to spur job creation in the tourism industry and the recreation industry. It’s how we’ll create jobs, preserving and maintaining our forests, our rivers, our great outdoors,” President Obama said.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the benefits of reconnecting Americans to the outdoors, according to the report. Public lands, protected areas, parks and open space promote physical and mental health enhance quality of life, build communities, attract employment; and support tourism-related jobs and a burgeoning recreation economy, Salazar said.
“Outdoor recreation and active lifestyles promote healthy Americans and build our economy,” said Sam Solomon, president of The Coleman Co. “Getting active and outdoors – biking in Central Park or camping in the Rocky Mountains – benefits people, families and communities,” Solomon said. ”The health of our industry shows that public lands and recreation are powerful economic drivers in cities and communities across America.”
The report states outdoor industry research cited during the conference validates protected lands and waters, and outdoor recreation as key economic drivers. “Active outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, paddling, back country skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities, drives a total of $730 billion in annual economic activity across the U.S. and supports 6.5 million jobs,” according to Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Outdoor Industry Association.