AGO Stakeholder Conference Calls

Youth Serving Organizations and Education Stakeholders Conference Call

The White House February 17, 2011

Speakers:
-	Julie Rodriguez, Director of Youth, DOI
-	Meryl Harrell, Senior Advisor, USDA
-	Dan Kanninen, White House Liaison, EPA
-	Amy Salzman, Associate Director for Policy Outreach, CEQ
-	Moderator: Jack Shapiro
•	Ms. Salzman drew participants’ attention to the last two recommendations in the recently released America’s Great Outdoors Report.  The first will establish an AGO Council, which will serve as an interagency federal family council. The council will incorporate agencies like those participating in the call as well as the Department of Education, HUD and the Department of Labor with the purpose of working together on conservation.  The second recommendation establishes a partnership for America’s Great Outdoors, which would be non-governmental and would create a forum for people who care about conservation and recreation to work constructively.
•	Ms. Rodriguez spoke about making the outdoors more relevant to today’s youth.  She discussed the particular challenge of making the outdoors accessible by expanding and supporting urban parks and building on existing environmental education programs.  The report seeks to reach younger children in order to build a sense of environmental stewardship and conservation ethic from a young age, as well as providing youth the opportunity to work in internship and fellowship capacities.  She also pointed out a three minute video on the AGO website that highlights youth voices from the listening sessions and asked participants to distribute it on their media networks.
•	Ms. Harrell highlighted the report’s mandate to increase youth training and meaningful work opportunities by establishing a modern Youth Conservation Corps to focus on land and water conservation.  Once youth have had the training, the report aims to develop long-term pathways for careers by reviewing the internship programs through federal hiring centers. The report also aims to improve agencies’ capacity to grow and manage volunteers.  The report also issues a restoration mandate to make public lands resilient to climate change by working with the Forest Service’s recently released Planning Rule, which requires agencies to engage youth for federal lands management.
•	Mr. Kanninen pointed out that the imperative of youth involvement discovered in the AGO listening sessions has been woven throughout the report.  He explained the EPA’s strong focus on connecting science and math to the outdoors for children in schools, and he pointed out that the AGO report and the urban connection complement each other well.
•	Many of the participants’ questions were concerned with education opportunities and the particulars of funding management.  To one question about partnership development, Ms. Salzman expressed a federal imperative to use existing agency programs more effectively through better coordination, and she pointed out that the AGO report has asked for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the second time.  Many other questions focused on special needs of youth in minority communities and other particulars of urban environmental education. Ms. Salzman expressed a wish for participants to let the group assembled know of upcoming youth events so they may send federal representatives. Ms. Rodriguez offered youthgo.gov as an important resource for future use. Future questions can be sent to policyoutreach@ceq.eop.gov.

AGO Call for Sportsmen and Recreation Stakeholders

The White House February 18, 2011

Speakers:     
Amy Salzman, CEQ
Will Shafroth, DOI
Robert Bonnie, USDA
•	Ms. Salzman stressed importance of AGO Council to break down silos.
•	Mr. Shafroth said a large part of AGO goal is connection of people, especially young people, to the outdoors and recreation is clearly a means to that end.  Priorities will be:
o	Major effort to increase numbers of young people working on public lands; 45% increase at DOI (15,000 to 22,000); new effort with 21st century conservation corps
o	Increasing access to public lands is key; expects federal inter-agency council on recreation (already referred to by acronym, FICOR) to play central role, coordinating activities, common Web site; coordination with state and local groups as well
o	Increased funding for LWCF very important; some of the (presumably federal) funds to be used for recreation access; state funds to be used for urban parks and blue ways (rivers)
o	Better focused efforts at the landscape level on climate change, wildlife corridors
o	Water conservation, river management, fishery management also being addressed
•	Mr. Bonnie said working-lands conservation necessary as farms, ranches, and privately owned forests being lost to development.  Priorities will be:
o	Incentives, partnerships, farm bill programs, conservation easements, environmental markets all part of the working-lands conservation effort
o	Commitment to technical assistance for recreation and trails and to volunteer access programs
o	Importance of community focus

Q&A session followed:

David Brown, America Outdoors Association
How will agency field staff be able to keep pace with increased demand for public land access and broad diversity of recreation users?
Answer:         Salzman - New partnerships will be necessary, use of volunteers
Bonnie - A commitment to recreation is needed; message heard not only through AGO but planning rule process as well; need to be more collaborative and bring in recreation partners to manage and monitor recreation uses

Kevin Colburn, American Whitewater
What is the time frame, development process for FICOR?
Answer:         Shafroth - Inter-agency MOU by week after next, maybe sooner; first meeting within next 2-3 months; information will be distributed to encourage involvement
Bonnie - Secs. Salazar and Vilsack have requested implementation report; ideas from interested organizations are welcome

Cheryl Riley, Pheasants Forever
How are you planning to work with groups like us as partners?
Answer:         Bonnie - Engaging with local partners is a key AGO theme; existing efforts (CRP)
will be bolstered, new ones will be started; looking for opportunities re young people especially

Mike Leonard, American Sportfishing Association
What about the use of the Antiquities Act as the basis for land designation – not too much public involvement there?
Answer:         Shafroth - Lots of public interest in new designations; we don’t want to give up that tool, but its use should engage the public and be transparent; a public process is absolutely necessary
Bonnie - We heard expressions of both concern and support; new designations will have strong public support
Salzman - President is very committed to the idea of public involvement in a transparent process

Lyle Laverty, National Association of Gateway Communities
Will any new authorities be needed to implement AGO?
Answer:         Salzman - No; we will use existing authorities; partners will be needed  – the Partnership for AGO – to expand investment, increase the speed of the response 
Shafroth - We will need new spending authority, financial resources to make this happen

Doug Eiken, NASORLO
Don’t you need state involvement at a significant level?
Answer:         Shafroth - We anticipate the full engagement of the states and other partners; we want to avoid FACA; FICOR can invite people to serve on committees; “we totally get it”