Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today signed a Secretarial Order establishing the America's Great Outdoors program in the Department of the Interior, formalizing the department's support for President Obama's landmark initiative to create a 21st century conservation and recreation ethic to reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the natural world.
"From conserving working landscapes from Montana to Florida, to creating a new generation of dynamic and accessible urban parks from New York to Los Angeles, to establishing a network of national water trails and blueways, we have worked closely for the last three years with states, local communities and other partners to preserve America's natural heritage and open up more opportunities for outdoor recreation," Salazar said. "By formally establishing the America's Great Outdoors program, we are ensuring that these efforts have high standing and visibility within the department and continue to be a high priority for years to come."
President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors initiative in 2010, focusing on making the federal government a better partner with states, tribes and local communities to support community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation efforts.
The Secretarial Order identifies projects in all 50 states that the department will help leverage its resources to get over the finish line, including conserving working landscapes; restoring rivers; and helping to create a new generation of urban parks.
Salazar also signed secretarial orders this year establishing a network of National Water Trails and the National Blueways System to conserve and promote outdoor recreation on key rivers.
"The America's Great Outdoors program plays a key role in strengthening our nation's economy, with tourism and outdoor recreation serving as huge economic engines in local communities," said Salazar. "We have accomplished much, but there is much yet to be done, and today's action will help to ensure that the vision of supporting locally-led conservation initiatives will endure at Interior."
A recent report by the Outdoor Industry Association revealed that outdoor recreation and conservation directly support 6.1 million jobs across the nation and $646 billion in direct consumer spending each year.