Contact: (CEQ) Taryn Tuss (202) 456-6998
(DOI) Blake Androff (202) 208-6416
(USDA) Courtney Rowe (202) 720-4623
(DOA) Moira Kelly (703) 614-3992
WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama Administration today released a report detailing key successes of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO), including advancing local conservation priorities, expanding access to lands and waters for recreation, restoring critical landscapes, and creating great urban parks and water trails in American communities.
In addition to their social, cultural and historic value, America’s outdoors provide vital jobs and economic benefits to communities across the country. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates recreation activities including hunting, camping, biking and boating support $646 billion in direct economic activity and provide 6.1 million jobs.
“Through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, President Obama has made it a priority to ensure that all Americans can enjoy one of our Nation’s greatest assets: its outdoors,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. “From restoring national treasures like the Everglades and the Great Lakes to connecting young people with recreational activities, the Administration has pursued a 21st century conservation agenda that builds healthy communities, grows our economy, and safeguards our most cherished natural resources.”
“There are few gifts we can give our children and grandchildren that are more important than conserving our nation’s natural, historic and cultural heritage and providing ample opportunities for them to experience it first-hand,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Working hand in hand with communities through the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have undertaken and completed countless projects to promote conservation efforts, provide more outdoor recreational opportunities, and support economic growth and job creation. I know that, together, we can continue to add to this impressive list of accomplishments in the coming years.”
“The Obama Administration’s continued focus on the stewardship of both our public and working lands is crucial to the growth and revitalization of the rural economy,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through record efforts to restore America’s National Forests and our work with more than 500,000 private landowners to conserve our soil and water resources, the America’s Great Outdoors initiative demonstrates the tremendous power of locally-driven conservation efforts to create jobs while reconnecting Americans to the outdoors.”
“The President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative has helped connect Americans to the treasured outdoor spaces in their communities — including the more than 80 percent of Americans who live in urban areas,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Programs like the Urban Waters Federal Partnership allow EPA and its partners to revitalize urban waterfronts and open spaces in cities, leading to healthier and more prosperous communities all over the country.”
“The Corps of Engineers is an enthusiastic partner in the America’s Great Outdoors initiative,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). “We are proud of our work to engage the youth of this country, through programs like the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. We thank our veterans for their service and profit from their expertise through initiatives such as the America the Beautiful park access pass and the Veterans’ Curation Program. We will continue to work with communities on river restoration, urban infrastructure renewal, and restoration opportunities for the public to participate in while having fun.”
The 2012 America’s Great Outdoors Progress Report describes how agencies are working together and with private sector, non-profit and community partners to leverage resources and deliver on-the-ground results for Americans. Examples include:
- The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) established a new “America the Beautiful Pass” that allows the men and women in our armed forces and their families to visit more than 2,000 national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands without paying entrance or amenity fees.
- USDA and DOI investments in Youth Conservation Corps programs increased participation by 20 percent this year above 2011 levels.
- DOI and the Department of Education signed an historic agreement to expand outdoor learning access for an estimated 54 million students and teachers.
- The President has designated four new National Monuments that protect unique American natural, cultural and historic sites and promote local economic growth.
- EPA is leading a multi-agency team to revitalize urban waterways and increase access for all Americans through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, beginning in seven pilot cities.
- DOI, USDA, USACE and the U.S. Department of Commerce re-launched the recreation.gov website with dramatic improvements and expanded content, helping millions of visitors plan travel, find outdoor resources, and explore national parks, lands, waters and historic and cultural sites.
- USACE, DOI, DOC, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation established a new National Water Trails System, opening up access points that connect people and communities to recreational opportunities on shorelines and waterways across the country.
The success stories highlighted in the report demonstrate how AGO promotes an approach to conservation that is locally driven, rooted in science, and involves collaboration among the full range of stakeholders, including Federal agencies, businesses, farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and women, conservation organizations and State, Tribal and local leaders.
President Obama launched AGO in April 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. In 2011, CEQ, DOI, USDA, and EPA presented an AGO report to the President outlining a conservation action plan using input received from more than 100,000 public comments and 51 public listening sessions across the country. Public input has continued to be a part of progress in this initiative, including through a March 2012 White House Conference on Conservation.
This is the second report detailing progress on America’s Great Outdoors since the President launched the initiative in 2010. To read the Progress Report or for more information about the AGO, visit: www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/initiatives/ago.