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 Michigan 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.
Providing outdoor recreational opportunities along the Detroit River and employing young people from the city of Detroit in river-restoration efforts 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. Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan, 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 Michigan 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 Michigan highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
The Detroit River runs along the U. S. -Canadian border and divides the major metropolitan areas of Detroit, Mich., and Windsor, Ontario, winding through an area home to 5.7 million people. This 32-mile long American Heritage River is an important natural resource amidst an urban environment. It offers outdoor recreation and wildlife access that local residents would not otherwise have.
The Detroit River Restoration Project will connect parks throughout the riparian corridor via trails and an extended boardwalk, providing improved land-based recreational opportunities that will benefit underserved minority populations. In addition, the project aims to reopen the city's only access point for fishing and boating. The Detroit River Restoration Project will also focus on improving public access to the river and reestablishing water-based recreation in this area.
Employing Detroit Youth in River Restoration
The city of Detroit plans to engage youth, particularly in underserved minority communities, to help with waterfront- and river-restoration work. The Detroit River, which the state of Michigan identified as a critical place for restoration and improved access, provides the opportunity for employing underserved youth in communities near the river through the hiring of the local youth conservation corps.
This project would foster urban youth's appreciation of the Detroit River and help establish a new generation of river caretakers. Conservation jobs for young people provide them with real-world employment experience that prepares them to enter the job market.
Through conservation work on the river, these young people may be inspired to consider jobs in natural resource conservation and recreation management. In addition, youth-employment opportunities would build the capacity of the youth corps organizations in the region.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Michigan, for example, the Department could provide technical and financial assistance to improve access to the Detroit River and complete trail projects. The Department could also provide technical and financial support to engage youth on restoration of the Detroit River.
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.