America's Great Outdoors: Maine Listening Session
NWF's Northeast Regional Center helps shape 21st century conservation agenda
Chris Hilke, Climate Safeguards Program Coordinator, NWF Northeast Regional Center
On September 2nd I attended a second America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) listening session at the Bangor Civic Center in Maine. The listening sessions are the outreach component of an Obama administration effort to collect input from people all across the country, to help shape a new national conservation agenda.
The Maine session focused on identifying successful strategies, challenges, tools, and refining the federal government’s role in promoting conservation, recreation and reconnecting people to the outdoors.
Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) joined Stephen Perkins, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Environmental Protection Agency; Jon Jarvis, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior; and Ann Mills, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture in making opening remarks to the 300 people in attendance.
CEQ Chair Sutley moderated a lively discussion that included several notable panelists:
• Andy Goode, Vice President for U.S. Operations, Atlantic Salmon Federation
• John Banks, Director, Department of Natural Resources, Penobscot Indian Nation
• Scott Hall, Manager, Environmental Services, Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC
• Ray Owen, Ambassador for the Penobscot River Restoration Project
• Marcia McKeague, President, Katahdin Timberlands LLC & Katahdin Forest
• Rick Lavasseaur, Chairman of the Maine Department of Conservation Snowmobile Advisory Council
Discussion topics ranged from the utility of a “landscape approach” to conservation, to the role of private lands, as well as some of the challenges inherent to large-scale conservation efforts in the northeast. Maine was the last stop in the America’s Great Outdoors listening tour, and administration officials must now synthesize the feedback from all the AGO sessions into a report slated for submission to President Obama by November 15th.
The Obama administration intends for the America's Great Outdoors initiative to be a starting point for redefining our conservation values in the 21st century. Despite the constraints upon the current federal budget, it is clear that substantial progress can be made in moving a new American conservation agenda forward.
Visit www.nwf.org/greatoutdoors to see what a handful of NWF's four million members and supporters think makes America's outdoors great, and read about policies the Obama administration should include as part of the initiative.