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Urban Waters Federal Partnership Launches Ambassadors Program to Support Revitalizing Urban Waterways in U.S. Communities / First Ambassador Selected; Will Help Coordinate Los Angeles River Watershed Project

Release Date: 03/02/2012
Contact Information: EPA Press Office 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - The Urban Waters Federal Partnership, made up of 11 federal agencies, today announced a program in seven cities that will accelerate and coordinate on-the-ground projects that are critical to improving water quality and public health, restoring forest resources and fostering community stewardship in urban watersheds. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Urban Waters Ambassadors program will work with state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and other local partners. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is an effort to help urban and metropolitan areas, particularly those that are underserved or economically distressed, connect with their waterways and work to improve them.

The first Urban Waters Ambassador has been selected for the Los Angeles River watershed pilot project with additional ambassadors to follow for the Anacostia River watershed (Washington, D.C. and Maryland), the Patapsco River watershed (Baltimore, Maryland), the Bronx and Harlem River watersheds (New York City), the South Platte River (Denver, Colorado), Lake Pontchartrain (New Orleans, Louisiana) and Northwest Indiana. Each of the pilot locations was selected due to the strong local and community leadership spearheading restoration efforts underway. Lessons learned from these pilot locations will benefit communities across the country.

Later this year, the Council for Watershed Health, a non-profit partner on the Los Angeles River watershed location, will host a staffer from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development who will focus on coordinating the pilot project. The Los Angeles River location includes more than 30 partner organizations – federal, state and local governments and non-profit organizations – focusing on a range of restoration projects, studies and outreach in the Los Angeles area.

“The Urban Waters Ambassadors will be a driving force in community efforts to tap the environmental and economic potential of clean water and thriving waterfronts,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “They will help the members of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership connect with the needs of the individual communities we serve, so we can put our expertise and resources to use in ways that will protect health, improve the environment and strengthen local economies.”

"These ambassadors represent our coordinated approach to partnering with local organizations working across the country to restore America’s great urban rivers," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities. This initiative is part of our locally-driven strategy to restore the health of our great rivers and support residents of urban neighborhoods that depend on them for business and recreation access."

"Conserving our natural heritage is an objective shared by all Americans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Urban Waters partnership gives thousands of urban Americans access to the great outdoors in a way they haven’t had before and creates partnerships between the federal government and American communities on conservation issues. At USDA, the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service are working in thousands of communities across the country to conserve and revitalize forests and watersheds, many impacting urban areas. At the same time, we’re connecting people with our land and resources by promoting outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles.”

"The protection and revitalization of rivers and watersheds in urban areas not only demonstrates this administration's commitment to improving public health and restoring natural resources in urban communities, but also helps beautify and increase property values in neighborhoods that are being developed or revitalized close to urban rivers," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Neighborhoods such as Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, and Highland Park which are developing housing options close to the river will undoubtedly benefit from the work of HUD's and other federal agencies ambassadors to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership."

Urban Waters Ambassadors will help local partners identify existing federal tools and resources available for their local pilot project. The ambassador will serve as a catalyst to successfully complete on-the-ground projects in the short term, and build relationships and capacity to lay a foundation of continued success for decades to come.
The Urban Waters Federal Partnership closely aligns with and advances the work of the White House’s placebased efforts, including the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, to revitalize communities, create jobs and improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the nation. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership also advances the work of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
For more information on the seven Urban Waters Federal Partnership pilot projects, visit http://www.urbanwaters.gov/projects.html. For more information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, visit http://urbanwaters.gov/