Annapolis Listening Session for America’s Great Outdoors

Chesapeake Bay

If you live in or care about the Chesapeake Bay now is your time to participate in one of the Obama administration’s listening sessions on America’s Great Outdoors.

The Obama administration is organizing a series of “listening and learning sessions” on America’s Great Outdoors to hear Americans’ best ideas for developing a new conservation strategy for protecting and connecting us to our special outdoor places. America’s Great Outdoors, a national conservation initiative, kicked off with a conference in April 2010 where government agencies came together in a show of unity to address conservation for the 21st century.

After hearing stories from across the country this summer about community-driven efforts to conserve America’s land, water and wildlife, the administration will compile our ideas into a November report that will focus on a revitalized national outdoors initiative that works for all Americans.

Tomorrow, on Friday June 25, the administration will be in Annapolis, Maryland  listening to local stakeholders about conservation and recreation ideas in the Chesapeake Bay area. The Wilderness Society staff will be in attendance urging the administration to employ America’s Great Outdoors to connect, protect and restore our public lands for future generations:

Protect our wildest public lands: The Obama administration should use all available tools to protect our public lands including designating our wildest lands as Wilderness, national parks or monuments, expanding National Wildlife Refuges, creating new national trail systems and ensuring maintaince of existing recreational resources. The administration should focus on large areas that will protect our wildest lands while connecting them for wildlife migration routes, and restoring wildlife habitats.

Fully fund restoration needs: The Obama administration should fully fund restoration needs and make restoring damaged public lands a national priority. By restoring our natural lands and waters we can spur economic growth by providing needed jobs, and improve recreation opportunities. Our public lands are also critical in shaping strategies to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. In the Chesapeake Bay region, our surrounding public lands provide a critical buffer against development, filter water and support a healthier Bay ecosystem.

Support fully funding LWCF: The administration should support fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and other programs that help foster conservation on private lands. These efforts would help keep wildlife habitat intact, protect lands around lakes, rivers and streams, and maintain land in agricultural or timber production instead of development.

Connect people – especially our youth – to the great outdoors: The Obama administration should create a national program to connect everyone, including our youth, with nature. No matter where they live, all children deserve the opportunity to learn about and experience the wildlands that belong to all Americans.

Throughout the summer, while the Obama administration listens to local conservation ideas, The Wilderness Society will be urging protecting, connecting and restoring our public lands to be a central focus of America’s Great Outdoors.

photo: Chesapeake Bay, Courtesy of National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (from nps.gov)

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