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Top Obama Administration Officials Hold America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Listening Session in Minneapolis

Release Date: 08/04/2010
Contact Information: EPA Press Office, press@epa.gov, 202-564-6794

WASHINGTON – Today, top Obama Administration officials held a listening session in Minneapolis on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to hear the public’s ideas for building a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnecting Americans with the outdoors. The listening session was held at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Will Shafroth, Agriculture Under Secretary Harris Sherman, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participated in the session.

“No matter where you live - the inner-city or rural countryside - the environment impacts everyone,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “As we build our 21st century conservation plan, we must expand our idea and definition of the great outdoors. Through this initiative we’re expanding our focus, strengthening our partnerships and creating opportunities to get all Americans committed to protecting our environment.”

“Minnesota has thousands of inland lakes within its borders, providing an invaluable resource to residents of the state,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Like communities throughout America, Minnesotans are working to protect those lakes, their serene parks, rivers, working lands and wild lands in new, smart ways. We look forward to listening to their ideas and incorporating them into the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.”

“Public and private land conservation and natural resource stewardship are integral to the history, culture, and prosperity of Minnesota,” said Harris Sherman, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “We need to hear and learn in greater detail about the successful work happening in the region. Successful regional and local conservation efforts such as the ones charted here in Minnesota will be key as we craft a 21st century conservation agenda.”

“We want to hear what is working on the ground in Minnesota and we want to support your efforts,” Shafroth said. “Now is the time to join the conversation and take an active role in shaping a conservation agenda that not only protects the places we cherish, but also provides the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.”

Prior to the listening session, the administration officials held a roundtable with tribal leaders in Shakopee. They also joined Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Keith Ellison, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Deputy Mayor Ann Mulholland to meet with Minnesota youth from the Wilderness Inquire Urban Canoe Program and held a press conference on Harriet Island and held an Environmental Justice and Youth listening session at Mill City Museum.

President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative at a White House Conference in April. The conference brought together leaders from communities across the country that are working to protect their outdoor spaces and focused on developing and supporting innovative ideas for improving conservation and recreation at the local level.

The secretaries of the departments of Interior and Agriculture, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and chair of the Council on Environmental Quality have been asked by the president to lead this effort and to listen and learn from people all over the country. Listening sessions engage a full range of stakeholders including tribal leaders, farmers and ranchers, sportsmen, community park groups, foresters, business people, educators, state and local governments and recreation and conservation groups.