President Barack Obama called Wednesday for a series of steps to help Americans conserve and get in touch with nature, including full funding of the $900 million Land and Water Conservation Fund for only the third time in its existence.
At a White House event, Obama also proposed creating a Conservation Service Corps to help young people find work in the outdoors, and extending the tax deduction for donating private land for conservation.
The proposals are part of an action plan by the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, which Obama launched last year to promote community conservation efforts to protect the nation’s natural heritage and help people experience it.
“These are the right steps to take for our environment, but they’re also the right steps to take for our country,” Obama said, citing job creation and economic growth, scientific research and helping American kids experience nature.
The action plan calls for creating more urban parks, restoring rivers and creating recreational “blueways” — river trails designed to generate economic activity, and increasing support for protecting rural landscapes.
Mindful of the budget battle in Washington, Obama noted that existing government revenue from oil and gas extraction would pay to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fun, which was created in 1965 to help purchase land and water property for conservation.
It would be only the third time in history that the fund reached its maximum level of $900 million, Obama said to applause, adding that “our attitude is if you take something out of the Earth, you have a responsibility to give a little bit back to the Earth.”