By Phil Sammon, Forest Service, Public Affairs Specialist
Today, President Barack Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, hosted the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, a gathering of leaders from communities across the country who are working to protect their outdoor spaces.
The USDA Forest Service is proud to join the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other USDA agencies in supporting the Get Outdoors Initiative to motivate healthy lifestyles and activities.
The goals of this Presidential Initiative coincide with one of the Forest Service’s primary missions – to actively support, promote, and fund numerous related programs, projects, and initiatives with wide-ranging missions and goals. In fact, just this week, the Forest Service has made a few announcements in this area.
On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced the availability of Forest Legacy Program grants to protect sensitive lands in 33 states and territories. These local projects can provide the background for local conservation education and interpretive programs associated with local, state and federal programs aimed whose goals and missions are closely related to healthy lifestyles, conservation education, and the challenge of reconnecting Americans and American families to the outdoors.
Also this week, the Forest Service announced major challenge cost-sharing opportunities for the More Kids in the Woods program, whose mission is to provide more natural resource and nature experiences to children across the country. These future leaders will be better able to make sound environmental and natural resource decisions if they have developed an understanding and an ownership of the public lands this agency manages.
In speaking about the More Kids in the Woods initiative, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell commented that this and related programs are vital in opening doors to urban and rural kids and their families through projects that promote healthier lifestyles while preparing them to cope with conservation issues of the 21st century: climate change, water quality and sustainable management of natural and cultural resources.
We look forward to hearing from people around the country over the coming weeks and months as part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, and to continuing our work with our state, local, and private partners help us to raise environmental and conservation awareness, and to help prepare future leaders for this agency, and for our country.
Listening to President Barack Obama’s remarks are (L to R) Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson (standing behind Ms. Sutley), Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Defense representative, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, and Housing and Urban Development representative