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Home arrowPresident Obama Launches America's Great Outdoors Initiative

President Obama Launches America's Great Outdoors Initiative

President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum April 16, 2010, establishing the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. At the signing, the President spoke before leaders representing conservation, farming, ranching, sporting, recreation, forestry, private industry, local parks and academic communities from all 53 states and territories.

The Presidential Memorandum calls on the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 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.

"Today, with 80 percent of Americans living in cities and suburbs, it is more important than ever for people to have access to outdoor space," said CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley. "Just as we cherish our childhood memories of hiking and sledding, fishing and camping, and just as we enjoy spending time outdoors with our families, we must guard these places and traditions for new generations."

The President's memorandum explains that "today [Americans] are losing touch with too many of the places and proud traditions that have helped to make America special." He promised that the initiative will "build upon state, local, private, and tribal priorities for the conservation of land, water, wildlife, historic, and cultural resources, creating corridors and connectivity across these outdoor spaces, and for enhancing neighborhood parks; and determine how the federal government can best advance those priorities through public private partnerships and locally supported conservation strategies."

The initiative will support a 21st century conservation agenda that builds on successes in communities across the country, and aims to start a national dialogue about conservation that supports the efforts of private citizens and local communities. A number of cities have served as the venue for a series of listening sessions hosted by America's Great Outdoors, including Albuquerque, Denver, Grand Island (Neb.), Los Angeles, Charleston (S.C.), Annapolis (Md.) and Philadelphia. The ACHP has been involved in several of the sessions providing information and conversation on preservation topics and ideas on how to get students involved with service learning for preservation and conservation projects in their communities.

Eventually, the listening sessions will result in a report for the President and public. To learn more, or to share comments and thoughts, go to

Updated July 27, 2010

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