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276 Outdoor Initiative 2010-09-03

Bear Lake Ranger Station

Last Friday, I attended President Obama's Outdoor Initiative listening session in Nashville. Prior to the session, the local paper ran a couple of articles promoting the event. After researching the Outdoor Initiative I thought, I wouldn't mind listening to opinions on promoting the great outdoors.

The main meeting room was filled and an overflow room was required. Lots of folks were interested in the Outdoor Initiative. Lamar Alexander and various other speakers talked for thirty or forty minutes giving an overview of the program. We then broke into listening sessions. My group probably had 60 participants. They all wore different uniforms and marched to a different drum.

There were representatives from the National Parks and US Forestry. Also present were outdoor leaders from the State Parks, State Forests, TWRA, and various other state, county, and city leaders. And then, there were the special interest groups...

The duck group wanted more land.

The fishing group wanted more access.

The mountain bike group wanted trails in the National Parks and Wilderness Areas.

The Off Road Vehicle group needed more land to tear up.

The horsey groups needed more concessions.

The eco-tourism groups needed more grants.

And one man just wanted to mow some grass and the Park wouldn't let him?

I am sure that I left some groups out, but the bottom line was all the Special Interest Groups wanted the President to give them more of something and they would bring the outdoors to the masses.

Soon we would have city kids going duck hunting - shooting at everything flying, fisherpeople lining the banks of all the trout streams - having a casting and untangling party, mountain bikes in all areas - soon bike trails would go to the top of Grand Teton, off road vehicles with rock crawls in Yosemite, horse concessions at every trailhead - you'd never have to walk, eco-tourists zip lines throughout the streets of the cities, and would someone let that guy cut some grass!

Going into the meeting I thought the room would be filled with hikers, backpackers, climbers, campers, and users like me. What I found was just the opposite... there were a lot of groups there that I just didn't understand. Yet, most of the groups had great points of view, just from different perspectives.

The Outdoor Initiative is

"talking about how we can collect best ideas on conservation; how we can pursue good ideas that local communities embrace; and how we can be more responsible stewards of tax dollars to promote conservation."


"the writing of a "new chapter" in protecting rivers, wildlife habitats, historic sites and the great landscapes of the country. He emphasized working together on conservation efforts spearheaded by local and state governments, tribes and private groups."


"Obama also promised ways to encourage families to hike and bike and spend more time outdoors, calling for a "new generation of community and urban parks" so that children would have an opportunity to discover the great outdoors, even if they lived in a city."

quotes from ABC Good Morning America.

To achieve the Outdoor Initiative, America will need a fresh look at the world outside of the window. A few of my suggestions...

  • It will take parents committed to spending time with their children.
  • It will take educators teaching the values of conservation and heritage.
  • It will take volunteers sharing with newbies their outdoor skills.
  • It will take commitment to facilities, trails (of all kinds), and user safety.
  • And it will take advertising, to entice window watchers to step outside and experience wonderland.

I was proud to listen to the Outdoor Initiative program in Nashville. It is great to be an American!

Happy outdoor initiative trails.


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