The Obama administration launched the AGO program in 2010 to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda. The Secretarial Order identifies projects in all 50 states that the department will help leverage its resources, including conserving working landscapes, restoring rivers and helping to create a new generation of urban parks.
“We applaud Secretary Salazar for formally establishing the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.” said Bob Bendick, director of U.S. Government Relations at the Nature Conservancy. “America’s Great Outdoors is the right track for conservation in our country in the 21st Century. It is based on working cooperatively with states, local government, private landowners, businesses and non-profit organizations to accomplish conservation that citizens want at scales and locations that reflect people’s hopes and needs. In difficult economic times, it coordinates and focuses the limited resources of federal agencies so that they can make a tangible difference and can leverage non-federal funding. It recognizes and supports the important economic values of natural resources including outdoor recreation, farming, ranching and forestry. And, AGO has selected priority places to work, following extensive public input, within three sound and sensible categories—landscapes of national significance, major urban parks, and rivers and related water bodies.”
Bendick continued, “The Nature Conservancy works on the ground in all 50 states, and we see the great demand from citizens and local and state governments for assistance from Federal agencies on the AGO projects and similar projects across the county so that people can better conserve the places that are important to them. The challenge now is to find the resources at the Federal level and other levels of government and the private sector to move these from-the-bottom-up projects forward. These resources are, by every measure, investments in the future of America’s people and their communities. AGO increases access to recreational areas and emphasizes the importance of getting kids outside and connected to nature in ways that will improve their health. And a recent report by the Outdoor Industry Association reveals that outdoor recreation and conservation directly support 6.1 million jobs across the nation and $646 billion in direct consumer spending each year. It will, however, take years for AGO to realize its potential, and so we support Secretary Salazar’s efforts to formally establish this initiative as a sensible, cost-effect approach to advancing our nation’s conservation needs."
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy