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07/21/2010

America's Great Outdoors Listening Sessions Draw Crowds

The Obama administration is rapidly moving forward with it's America's Great Outdoors initiative.  The initiative, which involves multiple federal agencies, is being created with the goal of shaping the future of land conservation in the 21st century.  Our country's public lands faces an increasing array of threats including climate change, habitat fragmentation, and a growing disconnect between Americans and the outdoors.  Over the course of the summer, agency representatives are travelling the country and hosting listening sessions where citizens and stakeholders sit at the same table and swap ideas about how to address these problems.

In the last month alone there have been sessions in such places as Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, and Albuquerque.  The Sierra Club has been active in many of these sessions as our organizers have done fantastic work encouraging folks to attend the sessions, educating them about land conservation and climate change, drumming up media attention, and getting VIPs to weigh in on the topic.

New Mexico session 
Congressman Martin Heinrich (1st-NM) addressing a crowd at the Albuquerque session

These sessions have been drawing hundreds of people who want to engage and participate in a dialogue about their lands.  And the vast majority of those who turnout are pro-environment focused on solutions to pressing local and national problems.  Additionally, the initiative has a strong emphasis on reconnecting youth to the outdoors.  As such, many of these listening sessions have held simultaneous and parallel sessions solely for youth to participate in a similar way about relevant issues.  The Sierra Club's Building Bridges to the Outdoors program has been actively involved in organizing and turning out youth representatives to these sessions.

The listening session tour is expected to last through the summer.  The administration will then put together a final report and recommendations for Presdient Obama due on November 15.  During that same time, the Sierra Club will actively ensure that those recommendations accurately incorporate managing our public lands for climate change.

Make your own voice heard and get involved here.

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