On Outdoors: White House outdoors conference April 16

March 31, 2010

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Championing President Barack Obama’s conservation vision for the 21st century, the White House Conference on America’s Outdoors will be held in Washington, D.C., next month.

Hundreds of environmentalists, sportsmen and outdoors professionals will be on hand Friday, April 16, to help leaders re-instill America’s need to stay connected with nature.

According to White House officials, natural areas are falling prey to urban sprawl and pollution and can only be saved by a collective initiative. The summit will encourage all levels of government, professional groups and citizens to spend more time outdoors. The event will mirror conservation measures dating back to Theodore Roosevelt.

The Obama administration, officials say, is knee-deep in a struggle. Outdoors enthusiasts, green groups and private industry are deadlocked in a fight for a balanced share of public land.

On many fronts, Obama has made strides in the area of conservation, pulling the plug on oil-drilling leases issued under President George W. Bush. According to documents, the Interior Department may be securing land for future sites of national parks and monuments. The measure has come with heavy criticism from U.S. oil and gas companies.

Democrats claim new parks and monuments would not be declared without careful planning and public input.

The April 16 conference also is said to include information to dispel rumors that the federal government is planning to impose significant restrictions on recreational fishing and hunting. The White House has denied such plans have been in the works.

Meantime, protest groups are urging the president to hamstring a score of other industries they claim represent the underbelly of a major assault on the natural landscape. Mountaintop coal mining, abusive forestry and poor waste management, groups say, are still posing serious and long-term threats on conservation.

“This conference is about starting a conversation about conservation in America,” a White House statement said, “and about learning more about what local communities, tribes and stakeholders are doing to protect the places they love.”

Outdoors news and photos can be sent directly to Jim Hagerty at jim.hagerty@rockrivertimes.com. Glossies and hard-copy press kits can be mailed or delivered to The Rock River Times’ office at 128 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101. Jim can be reached at (815) 964-9767.

From the March 31-April 6, 2010 issue

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