President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for an outdoors program that employs youngsters as trail builders, manages lands on a broader ecosystem level and gives hundreds of millions of dollars annually to conservation programs.
Environmentalists were overjoyed by the plan. Marc Heileson, the Salt Lake City-based Southwest program director for the Sierra Club, hopes it signals a willingness to expand wilderness protections in coming years.
Full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be huge, said Wilderness Society conservation funding director Alan Rowsome. The program already is paid for with oil and gas revenues, he said, and Obama just needs Congress to halt the flow of these dedicated funds to other purposes.
“The president,” Rowsome said, “is trying to meet an unmet 45-year promise.”