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 Wyoming 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.
Conserving the ranches and other working lands of the Devils Tower Conservation Easement and building biking and hiking trails at Grand Teton National Park 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. Matt Mead and the state of Wyoming, 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 Wyoming 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 Wyoming highlighted by Salazar in the forthcoming report are:
Devils Tower Conservation Easement
Ranches and other working lands surrounding Devils Tower National Monument provide important ecological and economic benefits for northeastern Wyoming. The opportunity exists to work with willing sellers of conservation easements on lands next to the monument to maintain traditional ranching and farming activities and reduce land fragmentation around sensitive public lands. The Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust is a partner of the National Park Service in the preliminary stages of this effort.
This project would support AGO goals by helping to conserve and protect a natural and cultural icon while preserving traditional ranching and agriculture.
Grand Teton National Park Multi-Use Pathways Program
Grand Teton National Park is building 16 miles of completely accessible multi-use pathways for walking, biking, and skating. The first, eight-mile phase opened in 2008. When completed this year the six-mile second phase will connect to the larger network that Jackson Hole Community Pathways is building outside the park. The park pathway will be completely accessible by the standards set under the Americans with Disabilities Act. When phase two is complete, the park will immediately begin design for phase three, a two-mile spur to a road loop popular for biking near the eastern park boundary. The state of Wyoming supports this project.
The report will also include potential actions by Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Wyoming, for example, for example, potential actions the Department could provide include engaging local stakeholders in dialogue about conserving working lands in northeastern Wyoming and work with partners to acquire conservation easements from willing sellers on lands adjacent to Devils Tower National Monument.
In the Grand Teton National Park Multi-Use Pathways Trust, the department provide technical and financial assistance to complete phase three of the project.
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.