America’s great outdoors … what parts of it do you think should be preserved for future generations? What should our conservation priorities be for the 21st century?
Those are questions at the heart of President Obama’s conservation initiative, called America’s Great Outdoors. The Obama administration has been collecting comments from Americans across the country this summer on this very topic, and we need to ensure that our president hears resoundingly that protecting, connecting and restoring our public lands should be at the heart of America’s Great Outdoors.
We only have until September 30th to make sure the Obama administration hears how we feel about conservation before it releases a White House report that could set the stage for America’s conservation agenda for years to come.
Wilderness supporters across the nation are speaking out for protection of special places, like Otero Mesa in New Mexico, San Gabriel Mountains in California, and the North Cascades in Washington. We’ve pushed for new wilderness protections in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Maine.
Our public lands belong to all Americans and provide us with clean drinking water, healthy air, and an opportunity to experience wildlife and nature. America’s Great Outdoors is about making natural places – from city parks to big wilderness areas – a part of our natural heritage.
It is also about better connecting people – especially young people – to nature. And it is about connecting people to each other, following the principle that the best results occur when people work together to achieve shared conservation goals.
We have an historic opportunity to transform conservation for the 21st century, and leave a natural heritage legacy that future generations can enjoy.
Please take action before September 30th and tell President Obama to make wilderness, new parks and monuments, and restoration of wetlands and wildlife habitat the cornerstone of his vision for America’s Great Outdoors.
Our shared public lands -- from the Grand Canyon and Yosemite to our forests in Maine and North Carolina -- provide health, economic and recreation benefits that sustain our communities.
To ensure that future generations will always benefit and enjoy our public lands, please consider these priorities for America’s Great Outdoors:
• Address Conservation at a Large Scale: Please conserve large landscapes that include our most pristine wildlands, working forest and ranch lands, private lands and the connections across these large areas. Large natural areas provide our best hope for addressing loss of species and open space, preserving water quality and adapting to climate change while preserving the wildlife and lands we enjoy today.
• Protect our wilderness: Wildlands represent some of our healthiest and most intact lands. Please use all tools available to protect our public lands including recommending new wilderness and national parks, designating national monuments, and expanding National Wildlife Refuges.
• Improve Watersheds and Wildlife Habitat: Restoring our public lands helps protect clean water supplies and adapt to the effects of climate change. Please prioritize collaborative restoration projects on public lands, making restoration a national priority. By restoring our forests we can spur economic growth by providing needed jobs, and improve recreation opportunities.
• Connect people with Nature: Please create new national programs that help connect people – especially our youth – with nature. Today, youth, especially people of color, are underrepresented on our public lands and it is important that new policies and programs are developed to encourage more youth participation, including nature education or recreation programs and a revived civilian conservation corps . No matter where they live, all children deserve the opportunity to learn about and experience the wildlands that belong to all Americans.
• Provide Increased Access and Recreational Opportunities: Recreation is a great way for people to experience nature and help develop a strong conservation ethic. Please ensure access is increased for all Americans.
• Fully Fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund: Please support fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and other programs that foster conservation on private lands. These efforts would help keep wildlife habitat intact and connect wild areas, protect lands around lakes, rivers and streams. The fund can also be used to establish new local parks and trails, or provide key wildlife linkage areas.