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06/29/2012

Protecting Your Favorite Piece of America

My first trip to the Grand Canyon was epic: More than three weeks away from phones, city lights and noise. I went whitewater rafting and hiking and had a wonderful time. That was the trip of a lifetime and a great opportunity to think about what really matters, including time richly spent with family and friends and the life-enhancing wonder and awe of the great outdoors. 
 
From Maine's north woods, to the Southern Appalachians, to the wide open deserts of the west, I have traveled to so many wonderful places. I’ve been fortunate to have a career fighting for our American lands across the country: deserts, wetlands and forests, public and private.

It's disheartening to see so many of those important places threatened despite how incredibly special they are to the health of our environment and the lives and livelihoods of local communities. I want everyone to have the chance I had to visit the Grand Canyon, which is why I am hoping the President will protect this amazing landscape by designating the Grand Canyon Watershed as a national monument.

For well over a century the Sierra Club and others have worked to see America's special places saved so that people from all backgrounds can take advantage of all they have to offer. This week the Sierra Club unveiled a new online hub to recognize, share and help protect America's most treasured outdoor places. This "My Piece of America" site is part of a larger campaign to permanently protect important critical open space and wildlands in today’s rapidly developing, technology-driven age.   
  
CranberryThe "My Piece of America" website is uniquely built to not only allow users to upload and view photos of their favorite special places, but also to connect with local protection campaigns on the ground. I've already contributed a note about one of my favorite pieces of this country - the Cranberry Wilderness in Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia - pictured at the left.

Visitors to the "My Piece of America" website will have opportunities to take action to help conserve these places for future generations to enjoy.  With trip giveaways, beautiful photos, personal stories and action opportunities, the site will provide an inspirational and engaging invitation to be a part of America's lands legacy.

Today millions of people recreate, retreat, and recharge in our parks, national monuments, wilderness areas, and other public lands. Our public lands are major economic drivers. They play a vital role in the $646 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy, which supports local communities nationwide and 6.1 million jobs across the country.

All Americans deserve a safe and sustainable opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Fortunately, our nation is blessed with many wonderful areas we can still protect and enjoy, from local parks and open spaces to large magnificent landscapes like the Grand Canyon Watershed that the President can and should protect as national monuments. Let's protect these treasures now so current and future generations can fully experience them.

-- Fran Hunt, Director of the Resilient Habitats Campaign

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