America's Great Outdoors Initiative Needs Your Input!



  ACTION ALERT!

America's Great Outdoors Program
Ask for a Massachusetts listening session!

On Friday, April 16, President Obama officially launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO), a national dialogue about conservation in America. It is tasked with looking at voluntary conservation in cooperation with non-federal partners, including non-profit land trusts and state governments.

The President singled out land trusts in protecting and preserving the nation's parks, working lands and natural resources.

The AGO calls for listening sessions to be held across the country. Sessions have been held in, or are planned for, Maryland, South Carolina, Washington, California, North Carolina, Minnesota, New York, Utah, and Montana. There are no listening sessions planned for New England! This in spite of the fact that N.E. has over 400 of the country's 1,600 land trusts, and that Massachusetts is where the land trust movement started, where the first public lands were protected, and has one of the oldest and best state park systems in the nation.

This is especially galling in view of the fact that the New England Governors Conference established a blue-ribbon Commission on Land Conservation that issued a ground-breaking report calling for regional cooperation on protection of land for parks, forests, farms, fish & wildlife, and coastal resources. Gov. Patrick of Mass. is the current Chair.

Ask for a Massachusetts listening session! Send an email to ago@ios.doi.gov (with a copy to Mass. Secretary of Energy & Environment Ian Bowles at ian.bowles@state.ma.us). Point out how the people of Massachusetts have supported land conservation for over one hundred years and how your land trust or parks friends group has worked to better our quality of life by protecting forests, farms, wildlife, parks and open space. You might also mention that Massachusetts does this with very limited Federal help - New England gets MUCH less for land, water and wildlife conservation than Western states.

For more information on the initiative and sharing your ideas, see America's Great Outdoors Initiative Factsheet by Bernie McHugh, June 27, 2010.