While folks were on Capitol Hill carrying out the budget fight yesterday, President Obama was making a speech celebrating our natural legacy. The President’s speech was the result of almost a year of listening and learning from the American people about conservation.
The occasion for this speech was the unveiling of America’s Great Outdoors: A promise to Future Generations, a report that can serve as a blueprint for conservation in the 21st century.
For long before the budget fight ever began, people across the United States shared their ideas about conservation with their Congress Representatives, Senators and President. They said they wanted to protect, connect and restore our public and working lands, urban and national parks, and rivers and lakes. They said they wanted to work with the government to make conservation work for their cities, towns or counties.
And the administration listened. The report is bursting with civilian recommendations from full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to creating a Conservation Service Corps that will increase youth involvement with nature. The report also calls for open and transparent designations that include cultural, historical and natural sites, such as monuments.
But perhaps what the report is most filled with is hope. Hope that a younger generation that is out-of-touch with nature can reconnect to the places their grandparents used to fish or hike in. Hope that we can gain more from our land by preserving it than developing it. And hope that conservation remains a bipartisan and forward-looking issue for generations to come.
Photo: North Cascades courtesy of the National Park Service.