Department of the Interior

Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2006
Contact: Hugh Vickery


Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, EPA, Council on Environmental Quality to Hold Listening Sessions on Cooperative Conservation

The Secretaries of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality today announced a series of listening sessions across the country to exchange ideas on incentives, partnership programs, and regulations that can improve results and promote cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships.

The meetings are the latest in a series of discussions the Administration has hosted since the President’s Conference on Cooperative Conservation in August 2005. The conference identified three broad approaches to improving conservation results:  promoting cooperation within the federal government, promoting cooperation between the federal government and others, and eliminating barriers to cooperation in existing policy.  Some aspects of these ideas are reflected in a recently released summary of new legislation.  Other aspects will be explored in the listening sessions announced today.

In announcing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument on June 15, President Bush reiterated his strong support for cooperative conservation.

“My administration is committed to working in a spirit of respect and cooperation with those seeking to protect our land, and sea, and sky,” the President said. “We believe cooperative conservation is the best way to protect the environment. This means we must focus on the needs of states, and respect the unique knowledge of local authorities, and welcome the help of private groups and volunteers.”

“Through these meetings we want to build on the legacy of cooperative conservation established under this administration and learn from the American people how the federal government can be an effective partner in conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. “We will travel the country listening to our fellow citizens who actually deal with the federal government and its many laws and programs. We want to share what has worked well and hear how we can do even better to achieve our conservation and other community goals.”

Environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility. President Bush is working to better equip America’s eager citizen conservationists with the tools to protect our shared environment,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

“I learned firsthand the power of hearing directly from the people we serve as I traveled the country recently to discuss future farm policy,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “Similarly, I believe these conservation meetings will provide invaluable insight to help us advance the President’s cooperative conservation agenda. We are reaching out to the very people who we are asking to partner with us, and our nation’s natural resources will benefit.”

“This is an opportunity for the federal government to get good feedback from the people closest to conservation issues,” said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. “Conservation is an important part of the Administration’s environmental efforts, and we want to hear straight from our communities on how we can improve.”

“America possesses a bounty of both public and private natural resources and landscapes that sustain and enrich us,” said CEQ Chairman James L. Connaughton.  “The conservation opportunity of the next generation requires continued innovation in how we design policy and implement action across agencies, across levels of government, and across communities.  I look forward to this next step in carrying out the President’s vision of a nation of stewards working together to accomplish effective and meaningful results.”

The Administration plans to convene at least two dozen sessions, with meetings in every region of the country. The meetings will focus on issues, programs, and policies mentioned frequently at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation.  Discussion topics will include:

  • How can the federal government enhance wildlife habitat, species protection, and other conservation outcomes through regulatory and voluntary conservation programs?
  • How can the federal government enhance cooperation among federal agencies and with states, tribes, and local communities in the application of environmental protection and conservation laws?
  • How can the federal government work with states, tribes, and other public- and private-sector partners to improve science used in environmental protection and conservation?
  • How can the federal government work cooperatively with businesses and landowners to protect the environment and promote conservation?
  • How can the federal government better respect the interests of people with ownership in land, water, and other natural resources?

The meetings will help inform and guide senior federal officials in enhancing the Administration’s cooperative conservation programs and policies.

The meetings will be held throughout the summer.  Dates, times and specific locations will be announced by mid-July.


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