Released yesterday, America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations is a crucial next step of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, launched last April by President Obama to develop a 21st Century conservation and recreation agenda. The initiative is a major effort to address Americans’ growing disconnect with the outdoors and, in part, the mounting pressures lands and natural resources face. The initiative is fueled by a three-pronged vision that seeks to (1) connect Americans to the outdoors, (2) conserve and restore the outdoors, and (3) instill a collaborative approach in the process.
The report details how the federal government plans put the vision into motion, but this approach is not all about federal action. Front and center is a clear message that the intent is for the federal government to work to empower local communities to attain their conservation and recreation goals. More than 50 listening sessions held across the country seeking public input and more than 105,000 public comments helped to shape the action plan, which will result in accessible parks and green spaces as well as river restoration and recreational “blueways.”
The plan seeks to ensure greater support for landowners to protect landscapes and provide access for recreation, investment in the protection of outdoor areas, and the development of a 21st Century conservation ethic. The report also calls for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, establishment of a Conservation Service Corps to engage youth in water restoration and public lands, and the extension of benefits for conservation easement donations on private lands after 2011.