WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environment America applauds the President for his celebration of America’s Great Outdoors in his long anticipated report highlighting findings from the Administration’s listening sessions, which asked Americans how to protect the places they value most.
“With more than 100,000 people from around the country weighing in, and thousands of people attending listening sessions supporting America’s Great Outdoors, it’s clear that people love places like Glacier, Shenandoah and Acadia National Parks, the Ozarks and the Grand Tetons,” stated Nancy Pyne, Preservation Associate for Environment America. “We are thrilled to see the Administration taking interest in protecting the places Americans care about most.”
Throughout the summer, Environment America and state groups talked to nearly 200,000 people in Washington, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Wyoming and Texas about the threats facing each state’s greatest treasure. Environment America helped to turn out more than 10,000 people to America’s Great Outdoors listening sessions and delivered more than 11,000 public comments urging Secretary Salazar to make protecting our national parks a top conservation priority.
Unfortunately, while places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Glacier National Parks represent the best of America, these treasured places are at risk from mining, drilling, development and under-funding.
One conservation effort highlighted in the President’s report is the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For the past forty-five years the federal government has put a fraction of the revenue from offshore drilling into the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expand national parks, protect hunting and fishing areas, and aid local conservation and recreation projects like city parks and playing fields.
National treasures from the Grand Canyon to the Appalachian Trail, as well as wildlife refuges, national forests, rivers and lakes, community parks, trails, and ball fields in every one of our 50 states have all benefitted from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Despite decades of proven environmental and economic benefits for local communities, year after year Congress diverts hundreds of millions of dollars of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to other budgetary purposes. In the America’s Great Outdoors report, the President recommends fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“As the Obama Administration continues their dialogue with the American people about the places we love best, we urge Congress to follow suit and recognize that fulfilling the promise of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and protecting treasured places like the Grand Canyon are indeed top priorities,” concluded Pyne. “Just as Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives attacks some of our most fundamental environmental protections, we cheer President Obama for re-affirming his commitment to American families and our most treasured landscapes. In times of economic austerity, it is critical that our government protects the best and most stirring aspects of the American landscape now and for generations to come.”