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.
Editor’s note:This story originally appeared in Wilderness Magazine, our annual publication that features in-depth coverage and features about the day’s most pressing conservation issues. Become a member and receive a free copy!
Getting Youth in to the Wilderness – that was the simple goal of the budding “Y2W” project the climate team launched last August as a joint undertaking of The Wilderness Society and The Y – in this case, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. As reported on below by our intrepid hiker and youth mentor, Neil Shader, this maiden hike was milestone for all involved. It worked for The Y – because TWS made it possible for four city kids to hike a beautiful portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Approximately 650 people crowded into a concert hall at the University of Minnesota–Minneapolis to discuss conservation, recreation and how to reconnect Americans with the outdoors. Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); and senior representatives from the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior (DOI) attended the “listening session” as part of the Obama administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.