As Americans start to head outdoors with the arrival of summer, the Obama administration is developing its America’s Great Outdoors initiative with “listening sessions” in Montana. One of many to be scheduled across the country this summer, the listening sessions will provide the Administration with an opportunity to learn from the success of local collaborative conservation projects as part of the national America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The listening sessions will culminate in a November report detailing the lessons learned and how best to move forward with tangible action to lead to visionary conservation success.
In a promising show of unity, America’s Great Outdoors kicked-off on April 16th in Washington D.C. with top officials from the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Council on Environmental Quality. President Obama spoke at the event, highlighting the importance of conservation in the 21st century and evoking the pioneering environmental leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt.
America’s Great Outdoors is a pivotal opportunity to create modern conservation successes, in Montana and across the United States. The Wilderness Society has been encouraging the Administration to focus America’s Great Outdoors on protecting, connecting and restoring our public lands. With growing pressure on our lands, this could be one of our last opportunities to leave future generations a lasting natural legacy.
A premier example of successful conservation collaboration within local communities is the Crown of the Continent in northern Montana. For years, ranchers and landowners, recreationists, timber interests, conservationists and business leaders have been working together to secure protections and sound stewardship for the various spectacular landscapes that comprise “the Crown.” Through public-and-private partnerships, Montanans are helping to protect this treasured land that provides clean drinking water, healthy air, working lands and a variety of recreation activities to the communities surrounding it.
As America’s Great Outdoors continues, the Obama administration should look for other conservation opportunities that connects, protects and restores the lands, such as the Mahoosuc Region of Maine and New Hampshire. This region attracts visitors with its rich wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities, while providing pure drinking water to its surrounding communities. California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain Range, which is located just 100 miles from the San Francisco Bay area, presents the Administration with an excellent example of collaboration, due to its diversity in land management systems that consist of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and private ownership.
When the Obama administration arrives in Montana to learn about conservation efforts, they will leave with a better understanding of how to create a successful America’s Great Outdoors. The Crown of the Continent, and those have worked to protect, connect, and restore it, will have helped turn this initiative into a legacy that will leave future generations better connected to the natural world.
Crown of the Continent, Montana.
Father and child hiking in Crown of the Continent, Montana.