On April 16, Robert Keiter, a professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and director of the College’s Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, was an invited guest at a White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors.
The event attracted some 500 participants from across the nation representing different interests. Panelists included Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Ray McCormick, an Indiana farmer and conservationist; Jaime Pinkham, Vice President of the Archibald Bush Foundation; Lynne Sherrod, Western Policy Manager at the Land Trust Alliance; Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico; and Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, among others.
President Obama also spoke, voicing his support for a broad-based national conservation initiative with special reference to President Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation efforts at the beginning of the 20th century and his 1908 White House Conservation Conference, and stating that he plans to build on “a breathtaking legacy of conservation that still enhances our lives.”
The President signed an executive memorandum that is designed to “reconnect Americans, especially children, to American’s rivers and waterway, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks, and coasts and beaches.” It directs the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, as well as the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, to lead the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, work with other federal agencies, conduct listening sessions around the country to gather ideas about successful conservation initiatives, and then report back to the President with proposed strategies and an action plan to promote landscape scale conservation efforts to better conserve land, water, wildlife, historic and cultural resources.
“It was a thrill to participate in the White House Great American Outdoors conference, which represents the Obama administration’s effort to bring federal conservation policy into the 21st century by exploring new collaborative opportunities to reconnect our fragmented landscapes and to provide future generations with a valuable and intact natural resources heritage,” Keiter said.