Plan for Community-Based Conservation

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 16, 2011

President Obama Announces Plan for Community-Based Conservation
through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama today announced the
Administration’s action plan, under the America’s Great Outdoors
initiative, to achieve lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces
that power our nation’s economy, shape our culture, and build our
outdoor traditions. This initiative seeks to reinvigorate our
approach to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially young
people, with the lands and waters that are used for farming and
ranching, hunting and fishing, and for families to spend quality
time together. Recognizing that many of these places and resources
are under intense pressure, the President established the America’s
Great Outdoors Initiative last April to work with the American
people in developing a conservation and recreation agenda that
makes sense for the 21st century.

The report released today outlines ways in which the Federal
Government will help empower local communities to accomplish their
conservation and recreation priorities by recognizing that the best
ideas come from outside of Washington. Last summer, senior
Administration officials held 51 listening sessions across the
country to gather input from Americans about the outdoor places and
activities that they value most. These sessions drew more than
10,000 participants and more than 105,000 written comments, shaping
an action plan that, based on local initiatives and support, which
when implemented will result in:

Accessible parks or green spaces for our 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.

“With children spending half as much time outside as their parents
did, and with many Americans living in urban areas without safe
access to green space, connecting to the outdoors is more important
than ever for the economic and physical health of our communities,”
said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on
Environmental Quality. “Through the America’s Great Outdoors
Initiative, this Administration will work together with communities
to ensure clean and accessible lands and waters, thriving outdoor
cultures and economies, and healthy and active youth.”

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is born out of a
conversation with the American people about what matters most to
them about the places where they live, work, and play,” Secretary
of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “It’s about practical, common-
sense ideas from the American people on how our natural, cultural,
and historic resources can help us be a more competitive, stronger,
and healthier nation. Together, we are adapting our conservation
strategies to meet the challenges of today and empowering
communities to protect and preserve our working lands and natural
landscapes for generations to come.”

“America’s farmlands and woodlands help fuel our economy and create
jobs across the rural areas of our country,” said Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This plan seeks to work in partnership with
landowners, conservation groups, states and others to conserve our
working lands and our public lands and to reconnect Americans –
especially our nation’s youth – with opportunities to stay active.
This blueprint was developed with input from the over 100,000
Americans in all corners of our country who joined our national
listening sessions and who contributed their ideas online.”

“This initiative is an effort to reconnect Americans with the
valuable resources all around them and shape a 21st century plan
for protecting our great outdoors,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P.
Jackson. “It is important that our waters, lands and greenspaces
are brought back into our daily lives. President Obama’s initiative
will help make these critical resources a national focus once
again, and involve people of every background in conservation of
the places that we hold dear.”

Specifically, the report calls for fully funding the Land and
Water Conservation Fund; establishing a 21st century Conservation
Service Corps to engage young Americans in public lands and water
restoration; and extending the deduction for conservation easement
donations on private lands beyond 2011, among other measures.

The full report and additional information is available at: www.americasgreatoutdoors.gov