From time spent with friends in neighborhood parks and backyards as a child to teaching a grandchild how to fish, Americans connect with each other by connecting with the outdoors. These inter-personal connections and connections with land are the root of the American conservation ethic. As the administration considers the future of American conservation, enacting policies that protect the outdoors and reconnect people to nature must be a top priority. The America’s Great Outdoors initiative should translate Americans love for the outdoors to policies that will sustain and improve the outdoors for future generations.
These policies must build upon a century of conservation science and management. As has been shown time and again, successful conservation combines a fundamental understanding of the resource and the threats it faces with a plan and implementation process that allows for input from all stakeholders. Landscapes, water and wildlife do not end at political boundaries — and neither should conservation policies. Public-private partnerships, local state-federal agency coordination, and tribal-state cooperation are just some of the partnerships needed to ensure America’s Great Outdoors is not a patchwork of conservation but seamless protection of important areas.
Conservation in the 21st century will inevitably differ from the conservation successes of the 20th century. New threats, from climate change to the lure of video games and the internet on a child’s playtime, could not have been dreamt of one hundred years ago. But ultimately, the same driving force behind conservation will be the same as it always has been — people’s connection to that special place where they go to hunt, hike or simply get away from it all.
In the report, National Wildlife Federation lays out the following policy recommendations:
A vision for conserving the nation's wildlife in the 21st century.
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