Photograph of whooping cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas by Klaus Nigge.
Insightful, longterm planning. Creative thinking. Transparency. Working beyond traditional boundaries. Staying relevant in Americans daily lives.
These are the concepts that we are seeking to apply as we develop a vision plan to guide the growth and management of our National Wildlife Refuge System. The Refuge System is one of the crown jewels of our conservation efforts, and we must ensure that it has the right tools and guidance to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
I am encouraged that so many Americans have helped in developing the vision thus far, and I applaud all who are in Madison, WIor joining onlineto continue this important dialogue at the
Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation conference, July 1114.
You are an important part of the Conserving the Future process as we stretch beyond traditional thinking and search for bold ideas about the future priorities and management of national wildlife refuges.
The federal government manages more than 671 million acres, roughly onethird of the lands in the United States, making the government the nations biggest land caretaker. How well the Refuge System manages the 150 million acres it stewardsincluding natural, cultural and historic resourcesis critical to the physical and social wellbeing of the nation.
The lands we steward belong to the American people. That principle is at the heart of the Conserving the Future vision and the Presidents Americas Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative, available at http://AmericasGreatOutdoors.gov.
Both initiatives call for the federal government to be a better partner and supporter of local conservation. We must maximize the conservation benefits of every taxpayer dollar, bring private landowners and a broad range of conservation partners into the picture and, ultimately, engage a new generation of Americans.
We must also enhance outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands, especially to involve young people who responded in great numbers to youthspecific AGO listening sessions held across the country. Doing so in partnership with other government agencies and nongovernmental organizationsas noted in the vision documentis a great step.
There is no doubt that Americans are seeking a 21stcentury approach to conservation. While we must be wise in how we spend taxpayer dollars, the nation also must be wise in investing in natural resources protection as an investment in the future. That future will be more secure thanks to the work that has gone into the
Conserving the Future vision. The work and conversation are continuing in Madison, and will continue in the years ahead.