Memphis, Tenn. ─ April 16, 2010 ─ An old adage says, “There’s nothing like the great outdoors.” And today, the nation’s capital is embracing that sentiment in force, welcoming sportsmen, conservationists and other outdoors enthusiasts to the White House Conference on “America’s Great Outdoors.”
Several of DU’s leaders are participating, including John Pope, president of Ducks Unlimited, Inc.; Dale Hall, the newly named CEO of Ducks Unlimited; Scott Sutherland, director of DU’s governmental affairs office in Washington, D.C.; John Tomke, president of Ducks Unlimited de Mexico; and Dr. Steve Adair, director of DU’s Great Plains Region.
The purpose of the conference is to discuss land conservation and ways to reconnect Americans with the outdoors. The conference, which is being attended by the president, features speakers such as Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality; Ken Salazar, secretary of the Interior; and Tom Vilsack, secretary of Agriculture. Other participants include an invited group of hunters and anglers, ranchers, farmers, state and local government officials, tribal leaders, public lands experts, conservationists, youth leaders and business representatives from across the country.
According to Sutley, more than 2 million acres of land are lost to development each year, and children are spending less time outdoors than ever before. Sutley said the conference will give people heavily involved with local conservation initiatives an opportunity to voice their ideas to the government. “Modern-day land conservation has to continue to be driven from each community,” Sutley said.
Dr. Alan Wentz, DU’s senior group manager for conservation and marketing, said DU was particularly invested in the conference because of two major initiatives.
“We were especially interested in this conference because our highest priority is to promote the stewardship of the Prairie Pothole Region of the Great Plains, as it provides habitat for millions of ducks and geese each year,” said Wentz. “As we work with ranchers and farmers to protect and restore the wetlands of this region, it is important to have the federal government be a strong partner in the effort. We have worked with the Department of the Interior for many years on this goal,” he said.
Wentz also stressed that the youth aspect of the conference was something that DU supports. “At DU, we feel very strongly about the importance of getting people outdoors for hunting and other wildlife-related recreation. Ideally, developing a healthy appreciation for the natural environment should begin at a young age, so this conference’s focus on ways to connect more Americans to the outdoors was a huge draw,” he said.
Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever.