White House Conference Sets Stage for New Era of Conservation

Community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives powering economy, protecting healthy lands, water and wildlife


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Obama and members of his Cabinet convened the White House Conference on Conservation to engage directly with conservation leaders from all 50 states to strengthen partnerships and identify next steps in advancing community-driven conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives that are building strong local economies and healthy lands, waters and wildlife across America.

Today’s conference – titled Growing America’s Outdoor Heritage and Economy – is part of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a community-based, 21st century agenda for conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors. The event brought together hundreds of boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and other key stakeholders from around the nation to meet with Obama administration officials to discuss issues surrounding conservation in urban cities and rural communities.

The conference capped a week of conservation announcements, including:

Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that they are recommending a conservation investment of approximately $30 million, or seventy percent of the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, in the nation’s prairie pothole region. Long recognized as America’s “duck factory,” the significant investment will help protect habitat for the waterfowl and grassland species of the prairies.

“President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to create a 21st century conservation agenda with American people,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. From investing billions of dollars to restoring places like the Everglades and the Great Lakes, to partnering with private landowners to conserve tens of millions of acres across the country, the Administration is making it a priority to protect and restore the places communities depend on.”

“People across the country are coming together to protect and preserve the places that nurture our souls, provide opportunities for recreation, and power our economies,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who hosted the conference at the Interior Department. “We know that an investment in conservation now is a direct investment into our nation’s economy – and one that will benefit generations to come. Today we heard from the people who are making a real difference in their communities and discussed how we can be better partners in fulfilling a shared vision for conservation in the 21st century.”

"President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Protecting our natural resources creates jobs in rural communities, preserves habitat for fish and wildlife, and ensures that our nation’s outdoor heritage will continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”

“Expanding access to outdoor recreation and green spaces can benefit the health and economies of people and communities across the nation. That’s especially true in our nation’s cities where parks and waterfront areas can inject new life into urban communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We’re glad that agencies throughout the administration are bringing their expertise to this important initiative, and we’re excited that the 21st century conservation strategy we’re building continues to be shaped by meeting people where they live, and finding out how we serve their needs.”

"The Corps of Engineers is proud to have been a part of this important White House conference on conservation,”said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “We look forward to continuing restoration efforts throughout the country. Our role in restoration and expanding opportunities for communities to participate in it is why we are here today. We look forward to strengthening our local partnerships and advancing job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and outdoor recreation."

The conference featured panels and breakout sessions panels led by conservation leaders such as Kirk Bauer from Maryland, a disabled Vietnam Veteran who has been serving as Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for more than thirty years, and Dave Koehler from California, who oversees conservation land transactions, river restoration, and environmental education as the Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust.

A full conference agenda is available here.

Locally-led conservation, preservation and outdoor recreation initiatives have been an important part of the Obama administration’s work. Through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO), the administration is opening up access to millions of acres for recreation, designating thousands of miles of new land and water trails, increasing youth employment in conservation jobs, helping parks and green space become more accessible and clean in urban areas, and making historic investments in large landscapes such as the Everglades.

The initiative is empowering locally-led conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, from supporting the working landscapes of the Dakota Grasslands and the Flint Hills in Kansas, to designating the Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, to countless other success stories across the country.

Click here to read a fact sheet on the Obama administration’s conservation record.