February 16, 2011

Udall Joins President for Launch of ‘America’s Great Outdoors’ Initiative

New Mexicans Contributed to Report on Conservation of Special Outdoor Places

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) today joined President Obama and others at the White House to launch the president's 21st century conservation and outdoor recreation agenda, an initiative based on extensive public input and designed to reflect and support Americans' love of special outdoor places and desire to protect our lands and waters for decades to come.

The president's "America's Great Outdoors Initiative" (AGO) is the result of 51 public listening sessions - including a stop in Albuquerque last July - with more than 10,000 participants to learn how Americans feel about their outdoor heritage, and find out about innovative and successful conservation initiatives occurring across the country. The result is a report designed to re-engage Americans about the importance of our outdoor resources, and jump start private sector investment in their conservation for future generations.

"I was proud that the President and his team chose Albuquerque as a stop on the ‘America's Great Outdoors' listening tour. In our state, we're blessed with a unique natural landscape that draws visitors from around the world," said Udall, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "In the West, we share a collective desire to preserve our natural wonders and limited resources for future generations - and I believe the president's report, a compilation of the input from citizens across the nation, is an important first step toward developing a comprehensive national conservation and recreation plan."

The report's recommendations include, among other things:

• Establish and promote a 21st century Conservation Service Corps to engage young Americans in public lands and water restoration;
• Support outdoor recreation access and opportunities on public lands by improving coordination, effectiveness and efficiency among federal agencies;
• Provide full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Senator Udall has long been an advocate for;
• Establish an AGO Urban Parks and Community Green Spaces Initiative;
• Extend the deduction for conservation easement donations on private lands beyond 2011;
• Manage federal lands and waters within a larger landscape context to conserve and restore ecosystems and watershed health;
• Manage federal lands to increase their resilience to climate change;
• Establish an AGO Recreational Blueways Trails initiative to designate community-scale portions of rivers as recreational destinations that receive special attention for restoration and access;
• Establish an interagency AGO Council to achieve more strategic collaboration among federal agencies engaged in conservation and recreation; and
• Launch the Partnership for AGO, a non-governmental body charged with promoting strategic partnerships, expanding engagement and investment, and fostering innovation to achieve the goals of the AGO report.

For more information on the AGO report: www.doi.gov/AmericasGreatOutdoors