President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum today establishing the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The President spoke before leaders representing the conservation, farming, ranching, sporting, recreation, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from all 53 states and territories.
The Presidential Memorandum calls on the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to lead the Initiative, in coordination with the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Education, and the Office of Management and Budget. The Initiative will support a 21st century conservation agenda that builds on successes in communities across the country, and will start a national dialogue about conservation that supports the efforts of private citizens and local communities.
"Today, with 80 percent of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for people to have access to outdoor space. Just as we cherish our childhood memories of hiking and sledding, fishing and camping, and just as we enjoy spending time outdoors with our families, we must guard these places and traditions for new generations," said CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley. "Through this Initiative we hope to identify new opportunities to work with Americans on a modern approach to conservation that begins at the ground level, and to reinvigorate the national conversation about our outdoors."
"Since President Theodore Roosevelt held the first White House conference on conservation in 1908, we as Americans have taken extraordinary steps to protect our land, water, wildlife, and history for future generations, but today the places we love face new challenges that require new ideas and new strategies to solve," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative will start a much-needed dialogue about conservation in our country so that we can hear directly from Americans about the places they care about and how they are working to protect them. This is about listening, learning, and finding common-sense ways to support the good work that is happening in communities across the country."
"President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative will play an important role in confronting the serious challenges our natural resources face today: climate change, air and water pollution, landscape fragmentation and loss of open space," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This effort will bring Americans from across the country together to look for new approaches to protect our national treasures. And it will highlight the importance of working across ownership boundaries to restore and conserve both private and public lands in a way that recognizes that conservation and economic vitality are inextricably linked."
"Too many of our cities have limited access to parks for children, low-income residents and communities of color. Improving access to open areas and green space in our urban communities should be a focus of a 21st century conservation strategy," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "It makes me proud that generations to come will know that we took action to preserve, restore and protect vital natural treasures."
The full text of the Memorandum can be found at http://doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/upload/2010outdoors-mem-rel-2.pdf