28 State Governors and the President Proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month

June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President George Bush and more than half of America’s governors. The proclamations were sought by a coalition of dozens of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinate special events held during June, including National Trails Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day and the Great American Backyard Campout.

President Bush’s proclamation, issued for the fifth year in succession, was released “to honor those who work to keep our natural places beautiful and to celebrate some of our country’s favorite outdoor pastimes.” The President goes on to “call on all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to take time to visit and enjoy the great outdoors.”

This is the second year in which many of America’s governors have proclaimed June as Great Outdoors Month in their home states. The state proclamations differ in length and emphasis, but most praise volunteerism, environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation as a means to happier, healthier lifestyles. Here are some of the highlights of the 2008 proclamations:

  • “Through biking, swimming, hiking and many other activities, we are able to enjoy the healthy benefits of outdoor recreation.”

  • Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano

  • “[Arkansas] provides an abundance of outdoor recreational and educational opportunities, endless adventures, and subsequent quality-of-life rewards and health benefits.”

  • Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe

  • “Those who take advantage of the opportunities afforded them in the outdoors generally live longer, healthier, fuller lives than those who do not; and Colorado receives over 300 days of sunlight, making almost any day a perfect day to be outdoors.”

  • Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.

  • “As acknowledged in the No Child Left Inside Initiative in the State of Connecticut, June is the perfect month to spend time outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty we are lucky to live in.”

  • Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell

  • “Great Outdoors Month will encourage cooperative conservation and new technologies to help ensure America’s outdoors remain places where families and friends can learn, exercise, and create meaningful memories.”

  • Florida Governor Charlie Crist

  • “Georgia’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan for 2008-2013 includes strategic priorities to promote fitness and livability in all Georgia communities, to enhance Georgia’s economic viability through the social, environmental and economic benefits of outdoor recreation and to address the need for conservation and proper use of Georgia’s natural resources.”

  • Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue

  • “Experiencing Illinois’ natural splendor contributes to happier and healthier lives for our citizens and a deeper appreciation for the great outdoors.”

  • Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich

  • “Outdoor recreation is an ideal way to exercise and enjoy memorable experiences with family and friends."

  • Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius

  • “In Maine and throughout this country, the number of overweight children is on the rise, and the State of Maine’s ‘Take It Outside’ initiative encourages parents to take their children outside and experience their own backyards and Maine’s many treasures in the great outdoors.”

  • Maine Governor John E. Baldacci

  • “Great Outdoors Month gives our children the opportunity to be reintroduced to nature and the fun adventures it holds.”

  • Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm

  • “Outdoor recreation promotes health, fitness, and environmental awareness."

  • Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour

  • Spending time outdoors provides countless opportunities for families and friends to get together, learn, engage in healthy activities, and participate in many recreational, community-oriented and leisure pursuits.”

  • New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

  • “It is important to maintain and enhance our legacy of environmental stewardship and enjoyment of the great outdoors by introducing children to nature.”

  • North Dakota Governor John Hoeven

  • “We believe that there is no better cause than ensuring that our future generations understand and believe in the values and benefits of the great outdoors.”

  • Ohio Governor Ted Strickland

  • Recreation is a valuable means for education to reach America’s youth with the message that outdoor recreation is a fun, healthy use of leisure time.”

  • Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski

  • “Great Outdoors Month is a significant opportunity to help reconnect our children to nature and reverse the troubling nationwide trends of children spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago and spending six and a half hours each day ‘plugged into’ electronic media.”

  • Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell

  • Outdoor recreation is an essential component to our well-being, with the ability to improve our health and build the human spirit.”

  • South Dakota Governor M. Michael Rounds

  • “At this time, I encourage everyone to explore the great outdoors of Texas.”

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry

  • “The mission of this month is to promote healthier lifestyles to combat obesity, volunteerism to strengthen our communities and our shared legacy of parks and forests, protection of our environment and enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

  • West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III

    The initiative to get America’s governors to speak out about outdoor recreation was led by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), the National Wildlife Federation and the National Recreation and Park Association. More state proclamations are expected throughout the month of June. Proclamations can be read and downloaded at http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2068.

    “We are delighted by the response of the nation’s governors to Great Outdoors Month 2008, but we anticipate that in 2009 we will see both proclamations by every governor and personal participation in a state park event during the month,” said NASPD Executive Director Phil McKnelly.

    ARC President Derrick Crandall pledged to support NASPD’s 2009 goals and to focus on the themes highlighted in the 2008 proclamations. “The governors related the outdoors to health, to education, to economic stability of our communities and to quality of life,” he said. “They have challenged us to look beyond trails and campsites and boat ramps and consider our role in supporting families and communities made healthier and happier through the outdoors. I look forward to exciting dialogues and to new initiatives that center on parks but measure benefits to the public