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Banding Together for Waterfowl

President Announces Plan for America's Great Outdoors Initiative

John Tomke, former DU President, in attendance

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 17, 2011 – Telling America's hunters and anglers his new program would directly benefit their outdoor activities, the president briefed the media Wednesday at the White House on his America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a program designed to achieve lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces that power the nation's economy, shape the country's culture and build our outdoor traditions.

Former DU president John Tomke, chairman of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, represented Ducks Unlimited at the briefing. "The AGO program discussed by the president has the potential for significant impact upon the conservation landscapes of the U.S., including full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund," Tomke said.

Tomke joined the president on stage during the event and met with the president prior to the briefing. Tomke was appointed chairman of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council last year by U. S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

The president touched on several issues concerning conservation and the future of outdoor recreation. The following strategic steps within the AGO program were discussed: 

  • Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which directs federal revenue from oil and gas extraction for national, state and local conservation and recreation projects.
  • Establishing a 21st century Conservation Service Corps to engage young Americans in public lands and water restoration.
  • Extending the deduction for conservation easement donations on private lands beyond 2011.
  • Establishing an America's Great Outdoors National Recreational Blueways Trails initiative to designate community-scale portions of rivers as recreational destinations that receive special attention for restoration and access.
  • Supporting collaborative efforts to conserve large landscapes across working lands by targeting resources from incentive-based programs.
  • Increasing outdoor recreational opportunities and access.
  • Establishing an interagency America's Great Outdoors Council to ensure federal agencies collaborate efficiently on conservation and recreation strategies.
  • Launching the Partnership for America's Great Outdoors, a non-governmental body that will focus on forming strategic conservation partnerships across communities, businesses and governments.
  • Partnering with communities throughout the country to establish and expand urban parks and green spaces and to build on large landscape conservation projects. 
Related: See a transcript of remarks from President Obama's speech.

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. 

For more information, go to www.ducks.org.


Chris Jennings

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