Projects Will Be Part of 50-State Report
WASHINGTON — Just days before the release of a 50-state report outlining some of the country's most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted two projects in the state of Arizona that will be included in the final report — representing what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
Connecting urban youth to the outdoors at Phoenix's Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area and expanding recreational opportunities at Lake Havasu are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week's report — two in every state — as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states. These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Jan Brewer and the state of Arizona, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders. The full 50-state report will be released in the coming weeks.
“Under the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Arizona and communities across America and working with them on locally-based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said. “My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”
The two projects in Arizona highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is a nature center in the heart of the city of Phoenix's Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, a 600-acre park along the Salt River. Located less than two miles from downtown Phoenix, the center is a gateway to lush Sonoran riparian habitat used by more than 200 species of birds and other wildlife.
The River Pathways Program supports the AGO priorities of restoring and revitalizing a significant river while creating more green space, urban parkways, and fishing opportunities for residents of Phoenix. The project will engage youth in conservation and monitoring in the Agua Fria National Monument; open a new recreation area near the shore of Lake Pleasant Regional Park on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Maricopa County Parks; and build and maintain 18 to 20 miles of trails within the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area.
The River Pathways Program has a goal of educating 25,000 Phoenix inner city youth (94 percent of whom are minority students) in basic environmental literacy by 2015. As part of the project, young people will build regional trails, monitor fragile riparian resources, and restore avian and aquatic habitat.
Lake Havasu National Bluewater Trail System
Lake Havasu provides boating, fishing, camping, and other outdoor recreation for 2 million visitors a year. The river/lake-based trail will be complemented by a parallel non-motorized trail along the lakeshore. Both would connect the city to two national wildlife refuges at either end of Lake Havasu, three state parks, new public fishing facilities, six new accessible shoreline camps to accommodate disabled visitors, and more than 80 existing boating camps on BLM-managed public lands.
The project would highlight more than 10 years of work by public/private partners to improve the reservoir's fisheries habitat, shoreline access, and recreation opportunities, as well as its economic and education potentials.
The partners plan to engage a Youth Conservation Corps team in 2012 to do some of the land-based restoration and enhancement work. The project will support the local and regional economies and advance AGO recreation goals.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Arizona, for example, the Department could provide technical and financial support to build trails and develop the recreation site at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. At Lake Havasu, it could provide financial support for the public access and campground projects and work with DOI bureaus to engage local Youth Conservation Corps.
The Department of the Interior will work with each of its key bureaus — including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — to direct available resources and personnel to make these projects a reality.
“The America's Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government's role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said. “Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects already announced, click here.