Tour of Tamiami Trail Bridge Project and visit to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge highlight economic impact of landscape-level conservation
VERO BEACH, FL—Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the upcoming release of the America's Great Outdoors: 50-State Report that will outline specific and promising ways to reconnect Americans to the outdoors and promote the creation of jobs in tourism and outdoor recreation in every state in the nation. Secretary Salazar made the announcement at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the last stop in his two-day trip to Florida to underscore the inextricable link between strong conservation efforts and a healthy economy.
The report, part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Secretary Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on the best investments in each state to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
“The America's Great Outdoors initiative is rooted in strong partnerships with states, local communities and other stakeholders to establish a conservation and recreation ethic for the 21st century,” Salazar said. “I believe this 50-state report will serve as a strong foundation to continue to translate the America's Great Outdoors vision into on-the-ground progress. These proposed projects, from urban parks to blueways to open spaces, will also boost local economies through supporting tourism and jobs in the outdoor recreation industry.”
The projects identified in the report are ones that Interior believes could benefit from a strong federal/state partnership; inclusion is not tied to federal funding.
Today Salazar announced the America's Great Outdoors initiatives for five states: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Projects for the remaining 45 states will be announced over the next several weeks, state-by-state, before the complete report is released.
Yesterday evening, Salazar addressed the 21st Annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference in Miami, the first stop in his two-day trip to Florida. During his keynote remarks, Salazar thanked the crowd of over 400 journalists for their interest in conservation and asked for their continued coverage in making it relevant to readers and viewers across the country.
“There are big things – great things – happening in land and water conservation across the country that every American should know about,” said Salazar. “From the restoration of the Florida Everglades and the San Joaquin River to the creation of a Big Bend-Rio Bravo bi-national conservation area – these stories deserve attention and you can help us put the spotlight on them.”
This morning, Salazar toured the Tamiami Trail Bridge Project site in Miami-Dade County where he received updates from the National Park Service and the Army Corps of Engineers on work to complete the one-mile bridge by 2013. Part of the largest construction project in the history of the National Park System, the bridge will help restore historic water flows to the Everglades. The increased water volumes and improved flow will re-establish seasonal water depths and flooding durations that are critical to the survival of many fish and wildlife species.
“It is rewarding to see progress being made on a project that will play an important role in the full restoration of the Everglades,” said Salazar. “Getting the River of Grass flowing again will not only benefit the Everglades, but it's critical for the South Florida economy and the water-related needs of the 7 million residents who live, work and play here.”
Salazar then traveled to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe where he installed four commemorative planks along the refuge's boardwalk to celebrate the latest additions to the National Wildlife Refuge System. The walkway has a plank for each of the 555 units in the FWS system.
The new units include: Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area of Kansas, Dakota Grassland Conservation Area of South Dakota and North Dakota, Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area of California, and Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge of Pennsylvania.
“In laying these four planks, we not only celebrate our great conservation patchwork of the National Wildlife Refuge System, but we also underscore the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to preserve working landscapes through partnerships with local landowners and other stakeholders,” said Salazar.
For more information on the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, click here.
To view a map of the projects announced today, click here.