Great Outdoors Report Outlines 21st Century Conservation Priorities

Obama Presents Great Outdoors Report for Conservation and Connecting to Nature

02-17-2011 // Mary Burnette
Photo of a Mt. Moran Grand Teton National Park

President Obama has introduced a plan that will help protect our country’s natural landscapes and at the same time provide more access to the outdoors for American families. The plan is part of America’s Great Outdoors initiative which Obama launched last year to achieve lasting conservation of outdoor spaces that energize our nation’s economy, shape our culture, and build outdoor traditions.

At a White House event where the plan was unveiled, the President endorsed the plan saying “These are the right steps to take for our environment, but they’re also the right steps to take for our country.” The President acknowledged that it is important to conserve public lands, even in tough economic times. “He pointed out that President Abraham Lincoln set aside land for Yosemite National Park during the Civil War, and President Franklin Roosevelt helped protect landmarks that included Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty during the Great Depression.

Over 200,000 Americans provided input into this plan, either online or in person at more than 50 general listening sessions across the country last summer and fall. The collective message was clear; we can’t afford to lose our threatened open spaces and natural ecosystems.

Kids Need More Outdoor Time

Father and daughter fishing

When talking about the need to reconnect children and families to the outdoors, the President cited his own challenges with children Malia and Sasha.

“Michelle and I, we’re constantly having to monitor our kids telling them to get outside, turn off the TV, put away the Skype.” He said this was particularly important because “our lives are getting more complicated, more busy, and we’re glued to our phones and our computers for hours on end.”

Obama said the Outdoors Plan shares many of the same goals of the Let’s Move Outside initiative spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama. Another report released by the White House at the same time as the Outdoors Plan cites studies showing that access to the outdoors can help reverse the obesity epidemic that has tripled among America’s youth.

Outdoors Plan Addresses Nation's Conservation Needs

Black bear mom and cubs

Some of the specifics called for in the plan include fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund; establishing a 21st century Conservation Service Corp to engage young Americans in public lands and water restoration; and extending the deductions for conservation easement donations on private land beyond 2011.

According to the Administration, this outdoors action plan will also result in:

  • Accessible parks or green spaces for 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.

Following the President’s remarks, a stakeholders call was held during which Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator said “This initiative is an effort to reconnect Americans for the valuable resources all around them and shape a 21st century plan for protecting our great outdoors.”

The America’s Great Outdoors Plan would make the great conservationist Rachel Carson smile. She once wrote that “The real wealth of the nation lies in the resources of the Earth – soil, water, forests, minerals, wildlife.” The Outdoors Plan captures that spirit and aims to make America the wealthiest nation on the planet.

See the full America's Great Outdoors Plan at www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov

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