February 17, 2011 — President Obama yesterday proposed full funding—$900 million—of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for only the third time in its 48-year history as he spoke from the White House about his administration’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative.
10 months ago, the Obama administration launched AGO to help craft a national conservation agenda. Over 10,000 citizens attended more than 50 listening sessions throughout the country, including two held last August in New York’s Hudson River Valley, to inform the recommendations and goals of the administration’s AGO report.
Yesterday, the President spoke about the vital need to protect open spaces for future generations, and for citizens and children today to connect with the natural world in a healthy way. The Open Space Institute also recognizes the critical connection between jobs, eco-tourism and the protection of our natural resources, and applauds President Obama’s proposals—not only for full funding of the LWCF, but also for the federal government to partner with land trusts and local governments in accomplishing the AGO’s conservation goals. Read about last year’s listening sessions here.
Kim Elliman, OSI CEO, said, “The passage of America’s Great Outdoors will connect people to nature -- be it urban waterways or Rocky Mountain wilderness. It seeks to ensure that our great lands provide Americans with both jobs and recreation. America’s open space will continue to inspire, to provide clean water, clean air and to offer all Americans the chance to use and enjoy parks and protected lands."
While the President’s remarks were cause for optimism among many in the conservation field, there is still movement, however, among members of the House of Representatives to drastically cut LWCF funding from the FY11 federal budget. OSI’s Washington, DC project, the Outdoors American Campaign is working to seek full federal funding. We will keep you informed as budget negotiations continue and as our important work progresses.