An Opportunity to Lead 'America’s Great Outdoors' Initiative

Mar 26, 2010

President Obama Should Work to Protect Nature's Benefits for Future Generations

WASHINGTON – The Wilderness Society (TWS) today offered praise and recommendations for the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors (GO America) scheduled for April 16, 2010. Immediately following its announcement today, TWS is calling on Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack, Chair Sutley and the Obama Administration to take concrete action to increase the benefits that Americans gain from our shared natural lands (such as water quality, recreation opportunities and sustainability) within 5 years.

To achieve this goal, TWS recommends that the Obama Administration:

  • Designate 10 diverse landscapes across the country as pilot projects to implement this bold vision that connects, protects and restores the diversity of our natural land and waters and the communities they sustain. Within each of these places all federal agencies should work in concert and with local communities to stitch together patches of wild lands, recreational opportunities, watersheds, healthy working forests and pastoral private lands.
  • Fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at a minimum of $900 million annually to protect critical habitat, connect sensitive ecosystems, and increase recreational opportunities for all Americans.
  • Encourage youth to take advantage of our wild lands through recreation activities. Currently, hundreds of millions of people take advantage of America’s wild lands annually.
  • Empower communities, such as recreation enthusiasts, hunting and angling groups, and ranchers and land owners to lead on restoration and conservation efforts. Protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife habitat not only creates jobs in rural areas, but helps make the land more resilient to climate change.

“The world is changing rapidly and our chances to take bold action are diminishing every day,” said Leslie Jones, General Counsel at TWS. “The Obama Administration has proven itself as a leader on wilderness conservation and restoration. It is critical that this Administration demonstrate next month that a focus on conservation values reflects an alignment with America’s societal values - that our public lands reflect what Americans honor most.”

TWS recognizes the natural partnership between First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to get kids moving again and the Departments of Interior and Agriculture’s efforts to reacquaint America’s youth with our wild lands. Hundreds of millions of people already enjoy America’s public lands every year for recreation activities, and these lands are a natural playground for America’s youth.