With the 2011 America's Great Outdoors Progress Report the Obama Administration has detailed how the America's Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO) is reconnecting Americans to nature. The AGO has opened up access to lands and waters, restored critical landscapes and supported thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.
America's outdoors are an important source of jobs and economic benefits for communities across the country. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates recreation activities including hiking, camping and fishing contribute $730 billion to the U.S. economy and support 6 million jobs. The National Parks see more than 280 million visitors which generate $12 billion in visitor spending and support a quarter of a million jobs.
In the 2011 America's Great Outdoors Progress Report, 15 federal agencies highlighted their combined conservation and recreation successes. These agencies marked gains in youth employment, creation of urban campgrounds, new trail designations and historic investments in large landscapes such as the Everglades.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stressed that all Americans should be able to enjoy access to outdoor recreation and that the Obama administration will continue to invest in outdoor projects that support further creation of jobs.
AGO was launched in April of 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation and fulfill that approach in partnership with the American people. Agencies involved with this program include the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the successful initiatives include the Department of the Interior collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to designate 41 National Recreation Trails stretching across 17 states, adding 650 miles to the national trails system. Also coming up will be public-private partnerships that will deliver on-the-ground conservation and restoration across America’s military installations, national forests, national wildlife refuges, state lands, and working private lands.
Soon to be released is the Department of the Interior's 50-state report outlining 100 locally-supported outdoor initiatives that promise to re-connect Americans to nature as part of the AGO program. This report is the culmination of 50 meetings with Governors and stakeholders held by Secretary Salazar and other senior Interior officials to foster ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states.
To read the Progress Report or for more information about the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, visit: americasgreatoutdoors.gov or whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/ago.