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Boston’s ‘Circle The City’ Selected as a Signature Urban Project for President Obama's America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Release Date: 03/02/2012
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - March 2, 2012) Circle The City, an open-streets project connecting people to parks, has been selected as a 2012 Signature Urban Project of President Obama's America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO). Circle The City’s (CTC) open streets project will connect people to parks and is intended to increase park use and equity of access for vulnerable populations. It will also help underserved Boston neighborhoods that face historic and structural barriers to park access and the associated health benefits and enjoyment of outdoor recreation.

"Conserving open spaces with good air quality and healthy ecosystems significantly contributes to America's urban parks, one of the few public places where many citizens can recreate close to home," EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding said. "EPA is proud to serve as the convener to bring federal agency resources to the Circle the City project in Boston, helping Hub citizens, especially those in underserved neighborhoods, gain access to healthy green spaces for outdoor activities that can contribute to their improving and maintaining their own health."

President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative in 2010, charging federal conservation and environmental protection agencies to develop a 21st-century conservation and recreation agenda. Through listening sessions and outreach, AGO began a robust public conversation about the future of conservation in America that resulted in a call for a grassroots approach to protecting the nation’s lands and waters and connecting all Americans to their natural and cultural heritage. It emerged that urban parks and community green spaces were important to the social, physical and emotional health of America’s communities, and AGO recommendations included connecting people with urban parks and community green spaces as well as supporting and aligning federal agency programs and initiatives to promote the creation, expansion, and enhancement of urban parks and community green spaces. The CTC project does just that.

EPA will work with partnering federal agencies, the Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services and National Park Service, to bring federal support to the Circle The City project. This includes cleanup in the Muddy River area; air quality monitoring, testing and information; road closure/public safety permitting; health screenings; and park management and maintenance assets.

Boston joins a growing number of cities across the country promoting walking, biking, and community building on safe, car-free streets. On three Sundays this summer - June 24, July 15 and August 5 - CTC will feature free activities for all ages to promote healthy living and celebrate one of our nation’s greatest urban resources - our parks.

Circle The City is a collaborative effort, initiated by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, Boston Park Advocates, LivableStreets Alliance and the City of Boston. It honors Boston’s commitment to connect and engage residents with their local parks. An innovative model that encourages conservation and recreation, it will also exemplify the importance of healthy living in the city and improved access to urban green spaces. CTC events this summer will highlight Boston’s historic Emerald Necklace, the Southwest Corridor Park, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Franklin Park area.

“Circle The City is about connecting all Boston residents more deeply with parks and open spaces, promoting opportunities for greater health and wellness, and making our city a more vibrant place to live," said Julie Crockford, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, CTC's lead partner.

The Circle the City announcement is one of several conservation announcements nationwide this week.  Today President Obama and members of his cabinet met with conservation leaders, including CTC, from across the country at a White House conference—Growing America’s Outdoor Heritage and Economy.  The conference convened hundreds of boaters, hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, land conservationists, historic preservationists, outdoor recreationists, small business owners, local governments, tribal leaders and other key stakeholders, strengthening partnerships and identifying next steps in tackling issues surrounding conservation and the great outdoors in urban cities and rural communities.

On Sunday, June 24th, CTC will launch with a kick-off event in Franklin Park, Olmsted’s famous country park abutting some of the city’s most dense and diverse communities. Connecting more than 10 distinct neighborhoods to our parks, the project will continue on July 15th and August 5th, with safe, car-free public space for everyone to walk, bike, roll and play. There also will be free live performances, outdoor fitness, dance and yoga classes, farmer’s markets, bike clinics, children’s activities, culinary demonstrations, roller skating, and countless other opportunities to have fun on the streets and in the parks. In addition, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will give a concert in Franklin Park at the June 24th event. Funding to date has come from the Barr Foundation and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

CTC is one of five Urban Signature Projects chosen this year by the AGO, including “Peaks to Prairies: A Children’s Forest Corridor”, led by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in Denver, CO; “Middle Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge”, led by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Regional Office in Albuquerque, NM; “One Yard of Garden/GroundWorks Anacostia” led by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in Washington National Park Service and the National Capital Region, Rivers, Trails and Conservation Association; and “The Learning Barge/Paradise Creek, led by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Office in Philadelphia, PA.

For more information on “Circle The City” and the America’s Great Outdoors, please visit:
http://americasgreatoutdoors.gov/  and http://www.emeraldnecklace.org/circle-the-city/            

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