|Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011|
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, joined by Director Jon Jarvis and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were in New York City’s Central Park last week to introduce President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations report.
The America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) report, drafted following a year of input from more than100,00 Americans, recommends a series of actions aimed at protecting public lands, boosting conservation and encouraging recreation.
“Today as part of the President’s initiative, the National Park Service will ramp up its collaborative efforts with the City of New York and local partners to expand outdoor opportunities, strengthen outreach programs to school children, improve connections among the national parks in New York harbor, and restore New York’s remarkable natural, cultural, and historic resources,” said Secretary Salazar.
The Secretary chose New York City as his first stop on a 10-day national AGO tour to highlight new partnership opportunities between NPS, the City, states and non-profit partners. NPS has a significant presence in the New York City metropolitan area, with the 10 national parks that comprise the National Parks of New York Harbor (NPNH) spanning in excess of 26,000 acres, welcoming more than 12 million visitors and generating $1.8 billion in local economic activity.
"New York City provides the perfect opportunity for the National Park Service to demonstrate the principles of American Great Outdoors," said Director Jarvis. "The National Parks of New York Harbor will be a key partner with the city to reconnect New Yorkers and all Americans with the outdoors, to pursue active and healthy lifestyles and learn some history at the same time."
On his most recent visit to New York, Secretary Slazar challenged NPNH to become a model for the AGO initiative. The morning of Thursday’s press announcement, he and Jarvis met with NPNH Commissioner Maria Burks, Acting NPNH Commissioner Michael Creasey and the five park superintendents to discuss strategies developed in response to his challenge. Among the ideas put forth were the creation of the largest urban campground at Gateway National Recreation Area’s Floyd Bennett Field, a new center for urban ecology and restoration at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and using NPNH’s 22 separate sites as classrooms for educators and places of service for youth.
Burks said both Secretary Salazar and Director Jarvis “recognize the tremendous opportunities we have here to inspire youth and reach new audiences in the most densely and diversely populated city in America. And with the collaborative effort that is NPNH, joined with our expansive network of partners, we have the means to link our parks and create unrivaled NPS experiences in an urban setting, and achieve key AGO goals.”