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 Missouri 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.
Revitalizing the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and expanding the Ozark Trail 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. Jay Nixon and the state of Missouri, 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 Missouri 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 Missouri highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Revitalization plans are underway to revitalize the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial by improving connections to the city and expanding programming, facilities, and partnerships to enhance visitor experience. Connecting the Arch with the Dred Scott Courthouse would link the National Park System area with downtown St. Louis. This would form a larger urban park, providing increased opportunities for outdoor recreation and inviting more people to fully enjoy the natural beauty, culture, and history of the area.
The CityArchRiver2015 project is building a foundation for expansion into East St. Louis with a goal of providing green space in an urban area by breaking down long-standing cultural and economic barriers to safe and convenient parkland and trails. The CAR2015 project will also join in partnership with Great Rivers Greenway and Mounds Heritage Trail to launch a comprehensive regional trail system.
A major conservation opportunity in Missouri is the completion of the Ozark Trail. Expanding the existing Ozark Trail in Missouri to the Ozark Highland Trail in Arkansas will enable hikers to walk more than 800 miles from Arkansas to St. Louis.
The majority of the existing Ozark Trail is southwest of St. Louis in numerous state parks and the Mark Twain National Forest. A major portion was recognized as a National Recreational Trail by the USDA Forest Service in 2008.
The long-term plan is to extend the Ozark trail system from its current reach north to downtown St. Louis through the southwest suburbs and then to the Ozark Mountains. This plan will require acquisition of conservation/recreation easements and trail construction to complete the 108-mile northern section and 125-mile southern section.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Missouri, for example, the Department could provide technical and financial assistance for acquiring small land parcels and building the trail to close gaps in the Ozark Trail.
The Department could also work with federal, state, and local agencies, Congress, and the private sector to secure financing to realize the vision of connecting the Arch with the Dred Scott Courthouse.
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.