PIERRE, SD. — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould and Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jay Jensen hosted a public listening session as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to develop a conservation agenda for the 21st century.
The listening session, one of a series taking place across the country, offers citizens the opportunity to share what they are doing in their communities to better conserve our nation's land, water and wildlife, as well as to explore more opportunities for Americans to enjoy outdoor recreation.
“The success of conservation in America has always been rooted at the local level, where citizens and communities give their time and their talent to care of our nation's treasures,” Gould said. “As we tackle the conservation challenges of a new century, the work already being done by citizens in South Dakota and across the country will serve as the foundation for the America's Great Outdoors initiative.”
“A healthy and prosperous America relies on healthy forests and grasslands, and the benefits they provide: clean air and water, they provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species; recreation opportunities; forage for livestock, whose production contributes to the local economies and communities," said Jay Jensen, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “We want to hear and learn about the successful work happening in the region to conserve, restore, and keep working forests economically viable so that we can count on these forests staying as forests into the future. It is efforts such as these that will further build a 21st century conservation agenda.”
President Obama inaugurated the America's Great Outdoors Initiative at the White House Conference on the Great Outdoors in April. The conference brought together leaders from communities across the country that are working to protect their outdoor spaces and focused on developing and supporting innovative ideas for improving conservation and recreation at the local level.
In a Presidential Memorandum, he called on the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to lead the initiative, in coordination with the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Education, and the Office of Management and Budget.
From coast to coast, ranchers, farmers, sportsmen, conservationists, state and local government leaders, tribal leaders, public lands experts, youth leaders, business representatives have been attending listening sessions to discuss the challenges, opportunities and innovations surrounding modern-day land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans to the outdoors.
For more information on the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, please visit: http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors.