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Release No. 0079.12
White House Conference Sets Stage for New Era of Conservation
Community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives powering economy, protecting healthy lands, water and wildlife
WASHINGTON, March 2, 2012 – Today, President Obama and members of his Cabinet convened the White House Conference on Conservation to engage directly with conservation leaders from all 50 states to strengthen
partnerships and identify next steps in advancing community-driven conservation
and outdoor recreation initiatives that are building strong local economies and
healthy lands, waters and wildlife across America.
Today's conference – titled Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy – is part of the
President's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a community-based,
21st century agenda for conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to
the outdoors. The event brought together hundreds of boaters, hunters, anglers,
farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor
recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and
other key stakeholders from around the nation to meet with Obama administration
officials to discuss issues surrounding conservation in urban cities and rural
The conference capped a week of conservation announcements, including:
Outdoor Education : On Monday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new agreement to build programs that use national parks, national wildlife refuges
and other public lands as 21st century classrooms – designed to benefit
teachers, students and parents in rural America and urban classrooms alike.
These programs will connect young Americans to the outdoors, improve
environmental literacy, support experiential learning outside the classroom, and
encourage conservation partnerships at the local level.
Driving Tourism & Recreation : On Tuesday, Secretary Salazar and National Park Service
Director Jon Jarvis released the 2010 Economic Benefits to Local Communities
from National Park Visitation and Payroll Report . According to the report,
visitors to the National Park System contributed more than $31 billion to local
economies and supported 258,000 jobs in 2010, an increase of $689 million and
11,500 jobs over 2009.
Creating a New Water Trail System : On
Wednesday, Secretary Salazar and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
Jo-Ellen Darcy announced the creation of a new National Water Trails System , a
network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage
community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local
economies across America. The Chattahoochee River Water Trail in Georgia was
selected as the first to join the new system.
Conserving 1 Million
Acres of Grasslands and Wetlands : Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
announced additional opportunities for producers to enroll land in the
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), including a total of 1 million acres in CRP
initiatives to preserve grasslands and wetlands. USDA's CRP has a 25-year legacy
of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary
participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits
to rural communities across the United States. Under the Obama Administration,
USDA has enrolled more than 8 million acres in CRP. The goal of the new CRP
grasslands and wetlands initiative is to increase enrollment of environmentally
sensitive land through targeted signups.
Additionally, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service today announced that they are recommending a conservation
investment of approximately $30 million, or seventy percent of the Migratory
Bird Conservation Fund, in the nation's prairie pothole region. Long recognized
as America's "duck factory," the significant investment will help protect
habitat for the waterfowl and grassland species of the prairies.
Community Engagement : Today, EPA Administrator Jackson joined with federal
and community partners to announce the first Urban Waters Ambassador of the
Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The Partnership, an innovative federal union
comprised of 11 agencies is an effort to help cities, particularly those that
are underserved or economically distressed, connect with their waterways and
work to improve them. The ambassador, serving the Los Angeles River location of
the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, is the first of seven to be sponsored by
EPA, USDA and DOI for each of the Urban Waters locations across the country.
Urban Waters Ambassadors will accelerate and coordinate on-the-ground projects
that are critical to improving water quality and public health, and fostering
community stewardship in urban watersheds.
Protecting and Restoring our
Waterways and Fisheries : Through the National Fish Habitat Partnership, Federal
agencies are helping state and local governments, landowners, and community
groups to protect and restore our waterways and fisheries. This national effort
has spawned regional and local partnerships. Today the Secretaries of Interior,
Agriculture and Commerce committed to signing an agreement to promote
collaborative, science-based conservation of our waterways and fisheries. The
agreement ensures that Federal resources are effectively focused on locally
supported conservation strategies developed by fish habitat partnerships.
"President Obama launched the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to create
a 21st century conservation agenda with American people," said Nancy Sutley,
Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. From investing
billions of dollars to restoring places like the Everglades and the Great Lakes,
to partnering with private landowners to conserve tens of millions of acres
across the country, the Administration is making it a priority to protect and
restore the places communities depend on."
"People across the country
are coming together to protect and preserve the places that nurture our souls,
provide opportunities for recreation, and power our economies," said Secretary
of the Interior Ken Salazar, who hosted the conference at the Interior
Department. "We know that an investment in conservation now is a direct
investment into our nation's economy – and one that will benefit generations to
come. Today we heard from the people who are making a real difference in their
communities and discussed how we can be better partners in fulfilling a shared
vision for conservation in the 21st century."
"President Obama launched
the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to foster a 21st century approach to
conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the
American people," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Protecting our
natural resources creates jobs in rural communities, preserves habitat for fish
and wildlife, and ensures that our nation's outdoor heritage will continue to be
enjoyed by future generations."
"Expanding access to outdoor recreation
and green spaces can benefit the health and economies of people and communities
across the nation. That's especially true in our nation's cities where parks and
waterfront areas can inject new life into urban communities," said EPA
Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We're glad that agencies throughout the
administration are bringing their expertise to this important initiative, and
we're excited that the 21st century conservation strategy we're building
continues to be shaped by meeting people where they live, and finding out how we
serve their needs."
"The Corps of Engineers is proud to have been a
part of this important White House conference on conservation," said Jo-Ellen
Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. "We look forward to
continuing restoration efforts throughout the country. Our role in restoration
and expanding opportunities for communities to participate in it is why we are
here today. We look forward to strengthening our local partnerships and
advancing job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and outdoor
The conference featured panels and breakout sessions
panels led by conservation leaders such as Kirk Bauer from Maryland, a disabled
Vietnam Veteran who has been serving as Executive Director of Disabled Sports
USA for more than thirty years, and Dave Koehler from California, who oversees
conservation land transactions, river restoration, and environmental education
as the Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation
A full conference agenda is available here .
Locally-led conservation, preservation and outdoor recreation initiatives
have been an important part of the Obama administration's work. Through
President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO), the administration
is opening up access to millions of acres for recreation, designating thousands
of miles of new land and water trails, increasing youth employment in
conservation jobs, helping parks and green space become more accessible and
clean in urban areas, and making historic investments in large landscapes such
as the Everglades.
The initiative is empowering locally-led
conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, from supporting the working
landscapes of the Dakota Grasslands and the Flint Hills in Kansas, to
designating the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, to countless other
success stories across the country.
Click here to read a fact sheet on
the Obama administration's conservation record.
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