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Public Encouraged to Speak Up for Valley’s Natural Treasures in Important National Listening Sessions

July 30, 2010 | Hudson Valley, NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets                                               Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation                                      Hudson River Valley Greenway
Land Trust Alliance, New York Program                                                                          Hudson Valley Tourism
New York Committee of Highlands Coalition                                                                 Riverkeeper
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation                      Scenic Hudson

Contact: Jay Burgess, Scenic Hudson, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222
Eileen Newman, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, 845 265 8080, Ext. 7160
Mary Kay Vrba, Hudson Valley Tourism, 845 463 5445
Ethan Winter, Land Trust Alliance, New York Program 518 587 0774
Yancey Roy, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, 518 402 8545
Tina Posterli, Riverkeeper, 914 478 4501, Ext. 239

Valley Among 25 Locations Nationwide Selected for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

HUDSON VALLEY – Los Angeles, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Missoula, Mont.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Charleston, S.C. are among the special places across the U.S. where senior officials from President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative” have been engaging citizens in conversations as the federal government seeks to develop a 21st-century conservation agenda to reconnect Americans with our great outdoors. Comments shared at these sessions will be included in a report to be presented to President Obama on Nov. 15, 2010. Hudson Valley residents are excited about the administration’s visit—and are reaching out to friends and neighbors, encouraging them to step up and speak out for the region’s great outdoors when a group of high-level federal representatives comes to the area for two listening sessions on Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6. Pete Seeger, local legendary folk singer and environmentalist, and area youth from Clearwater’s Power of Song program, will open the Aug. 6 general listening session with a song.

Valley land preservation, environmental education, and recreation and tourism groups are asking residents to join senior representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies for public listening sessions in Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie.

  • A youth session (junior high, high school and college students) will be held Thursday, Aug. 5, from 3-5 p.m. at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center at the FDR Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.
  • A general session will be held on Friday, Aug. 6, from 9 a.m.-noon at the Marist College Student Center in Poughkeespsie.

The Hudson Valley offers natural areas, places of beauty unique in the entire country, clean water and safe, fresh food—and these outdoor resources are vital to quality of life and economic opportunity. The Hudson Valley has an important place in conservation history and was one of the first regions in the country designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area. The region also merited a stop by America’s Great Outdoors Initiative because the area has created enterprising, collaborative and progressive programs that are helping revitalize urban and town centers as well as rural communities.

Those interested can find out details and register to participate at www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors.

Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, said, “This is a terrific opportunity for Hudson Valley residents to tell why being outdoors in the region is special. It’s a chance to tell top federal decision-makers how we can partner with them, with kayak outfitters, park managers, local government and community groups to improve our outdoor experiences for tourists and residents. People should join the gathering to let the Obama administration officials know we want to work with them. If you care about healthy water, working farms, great parks or other parts of being outdoors—come participate.”

Speak Up for Valley’s Natural Treasures

“The greatest resource that the Hudson Valley has is our youth,” said Jeff Rumpf, executive director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “They are creating a new generation that supports ecology and the economy along the river. Clearwater has gathered a wonderful and diverse group of young people representing our cities and towns for these sessions. A diversity of future leaders, as in nature, creates the strongest opportunity to build a vibrant and sustainable eco-Hudson for tomorrow.”

“We are fortunate that the Hudson Valley has been chosen as a site for this important initiative,” said Paul Gallay, Hudson Riverkeeper and executive director. “The listening session will allow us to foster an important dialogue between government and communities about the serious challenges we face in protecting the integrity of the Hudson River and our watersheds; majestic resources that bind us together and make us proud to live in such a magnificent corner of the world.”

“Our region’s historic sites, cultural landscapes, agricultural heritage and its legacy of environmental activism are part of why the Hudson River Valley has been called the ‘Landscape that Defined America,’” said Mark Castiglione, acting director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. “We are lucky in the Hudson River Valley to have a vibrant network of grassroots, community groups and public-private partnerships that work together to connect people to that landscape. I applaud President Obama for exploring ways our federal partners can help support our region in accomplishing the goals of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.”

Mary Kay Vrba, president of Hudson Valley Tourism, said “As one of my colleagues phrased it, ‘the Hudson River Valley was the original great American outdoors’ and the Hudson River Valley continues to draw millions of visitors each year. This forum will give us an opportunity to highlight the great activities from world-class rock climbing to kayaking, hiking and biking. The Hudson River Valley is the gateway to New York State and offers an exceptional outdoor experience close to New York City, and is easily accessible. With additional federal assistance through this program, we can better tell our story to the international and domestic visitor and preserve the great historic landscapes.”

Ethan Winter, New York conservation manager for the Land Trust Alliance, noted that in announcing this initiative President Obama called for “public private partnerships and locally supported conservation strategies.” Mr. Winter added, “The professionalism and success of land trusts in the Hudson Valley and New York State’s innovative Conservation Partnership Program should serve as a national model. This is an exciting opportunity to highlight our region’s collaborative efforts to conserve farms, working forests and community gardens, enhance outdoor recreation and public access, and protect the fragile watersheds that provide our cities with clean drinking water.”

Janet Burnet, co-chair of the New York Committee of the Highlands Coalition, said, “This listening tour will no doubt address many important issues and opportunities. Water quality in the Hudson Valley is vital for drinking supplies and to support rapidly expanding interest in water-borne recreation. We also know that land preservation and management directly relate to the health of our water resources. I look forward to a brisk turnout of residents to speak on these and other vital topics.”

Edward Goodell, executive director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, said: “For 90 years, members of the Trail Conference have been blazing trails and maintaining footpaths throughout the greater New York metropolitan region. We are up to 1,700+ miles of trails maintained by 1,600+ volunteers annually. These trails offer opportunities for people of all abilities to access and enjoy the outdoors. We are very excited by the president’s Great Outdoors Initiative and look forward to working with many new and familiar partners on continuing to expand opportunities for people to connect with nature.”

Patrick Hooker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, said, “From apples to angus cattle, the Hudson Valley has long been famous for its fruits, vegetables, wines and livestock. We are very proud to welcome the America’s Great Outdoors program to the nation’s original breadbasket to enjoy the beauty and the bounty of our region.”

Pete Grannis, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said, “I applaud Secretary Vilsack for bringing the American Great Outdoors Initiative to the Hudson River Valley, which is in many ways the birthplace of American conservation. We are justly proud of the outdoor legacy we have created in New York through innovative community partnerships like our Hudson River Estuary Program that serve as national models for protecting watersheds and connecting people of all ages to world class outdoor recreational opportunities.”

“At the turn of the last century, New York led the way to protect vast acres of land for the enjoyment of future generations and the protection of wildlife in both the Adirondacks and Palisades. At the turn of this century, the 65,000 protected acres of the New York/New Jersey Highlands stand as our legacy for the next generation to enjoy and protect,” said Carol Ash, commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “The heart of the Highlands is the Hudson Valley. Known for its riverfronts, cultural and historic landmarks and its ability to support rare habitat, the Hudson Valley is a thriving piece of geography worthy of recognition by the president and his Great America Outdoors Initiative. We welcome the opportunity to work with him and our regional and national partners as we redefine our relationship to the natural world for the 21st century.”

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