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America's Great Outdoors

Over the past few years, the Land Trust Alliance has been working closely with the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and other partners to design a 21st century strategy for conserving America's treasured landscapes.  Thanks to the hundreds of land trusts that participated in the AGO listening sessions -- your voice was heard loud and clear!

Secretary Salazar Establishes Inaugural Great Outdoors Projects

On September 12, Secretary Salazar unveiled the Great Outdoors Program. The Program showcases special landscapes, rivers and urban parks across the country. Click here to read the full report.

America's Great Outdoors Report Embraces Local Partnerships for Land Conservation

At a February 16, 2011 White House event, President Barack Obama unveiled the America’s Great Outdoors Report and again cited the importance of land trusts. The report proposes to extend the enhanced easement incentive beyond 2011, fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and focus a portion of those funds on innovative projects that support urban parks, community green spaces and large-scale land conservation.

President Obama's Remarks on the Report

"At a time when America’s open spaces are controlled by a patchwork of groups, from government to land trusts to private citizens, it’s clear that conservation in the 21st century is going to take more than what we can do here in Washington… Meeting the new test of environmental stewardship means finding the best ideas at the grassroots level, it means helping states, communities and nonprofits protect their own resources and it means figuring out how the federal government can be a better partner in those efforts."


Click here for the full transcript.

President Obama's  Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request makes a down payment on these proposals by providing $200 million for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and $900 million for LWCF, some of which “will be competitively awarded to address priorities and leverage resources for urban parks and public-private conservation projects.”

This report arrives amid a climate of unprecedented fiscal stress in Washington. To make these proposals a reality, we will need your help spreading the word and demonstrating public support on the local level. This report is also a great news hook for your organization to demonstrate how its everyday work fits in to a national context. We’ve prepared some sample materials for your use:

Whether your organization focuses on working lands, wildlife habitat, urban gardens, historic sites or all of the above, you’re sure to find elements of this report that embrace your work. We encourage you to take a closer look as you spread the word to your supporters:

America's Great Outdoors Panel

Western Policy Manager Lynne Sherrod on the working lands panel (video)
Photo courtesey of
Tami Heilemann

Alliance Represented at White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors

President Obama's April 2010 Remarks

"Rising to meet these challenges is a task and an obligation, but it's one that government cannot and should not meet alone. There are roughly 1,600 privately run land trusts in this country that have protected over 10 million acres through voluntary efforts... ...so together, we are conserving our working lands in a way that preserves the environment and protects local communities."


Click here for the full transcript.

On Friday, April 16, 2010, President Obama officially launched the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative with remarks that applauded the conservation work of America’s 1,600 land trusts.  Land Trust Alliance Western Policy Manager Lynne Sherrod spoke on a panel on conservation of working lands, and over three dozen land trusts participated in the conference.

It was wonderful to hear the President calling out the work of land trusts and affirming the importance of private lands in conserving our natural heritage.  While Mr. Obama’s remarks included no promise of dedicated funding, he signed a Presidential Memorandum seeking a report on America’s Great Outdoors.

Your Hard Work is Paying Off!

Over the summer, hundreds of land trust supporters participated in the two dozen listening sessions held in every corner of the country, and thousands more participated online.  Our message is getting through!

In his remarks (.mp3) at the closing plenary of Rally 2010, Assistant Secretary of Interior Tom Strickland pleged, “Your priorities are our priorities...I will make a commitment now, that the tax incentive proposals that are so essential will be very much a part of our recommendation. Full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be a part of our recommendations…and we’re going to be looking very carefully at the holding of third party easements.

Thanking All Those Who Championed this Initiative

Please join us in thanking President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and their hard working staff for making this Conference and the Initiative a reality.

We’d also like to thank the three dozen land trusts who flew from across the country to attend the conference; their participation made an important statement about the prominence of land trusts and working landowners in this historic effort.

America's Great Outdoors Reception

Land trust participants at the White House conference. View an enlarged version with participants identified.

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This is a historic opportunity for land trusts, and the best way to be “in the know,” about emerging policy issues like this one is to subscribe to our Land Trust Advocates alerts.

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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