Public land agencies promote outdoor activities
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Four times a year, the U.S. Forest Service “gives” you something that’s already yours — free access to public lands that you own.
The next fee-free day is coming up in just a week (June 8), when you won’t have to pay to park and hike in areas that were funded by taxpayers in the first place. The other days are Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 9-11 for Veterans Day Weekend.
“The country’s forests and grasslands beckon people from coast to coast to come hike, bike, fish and camp this weekend,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “A tank of gas can give you memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. It’s worth the trip.”
Encouraging Americans to reconnect with nature, especially on public lands, is part of President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Under Obama, public land agencies are making a push to empower Americans to share in the responsibility to conserve, restore and provide better access to our lands and waters, and leave a healthy and vibrant outdoor legacy for generations to come.
National Get Outdoors Day also supports Let’s Move Outside!, First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to raise a healthier generation by engaging kids and families in active, outdoor recreation across public lands and waters.
“These special days are our way to encourage you to be a kid again, no matter your age or your level of outdoor experience,” said Joe Meade, director of the agency’s Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources. “Public lands can help you de-stress from the office or build lifelong memories with your family.”
The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched June 14, 2008, through a partnership between the Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition. The partnership built on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other efforts to connect Americans – especially children – with nature and active lifestyles. Go Day, as it sometimes called, now includes federal, state and local agencies, key organizations and recreation businesses to create activities across the country.
Forest Service lands, which include 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, offer something for everyone, from the casual hiker to the thrill-seeking recreationist. There also are opportunities and programs for children, from Discover the Forest that helps kids learn what to do outside to becoming a Junior Forest Ranger that comes with special access to the online “JFR Clubhouse.”
The programs, such as GO Day, are designed to reach all Americans, from those in rural, forest-dependent communities to those in diverse, under-served communities. More than 165 million people visited forests and grasslands and more than 6 million people participated in environmental education, recreation and related literacy programs in recent years.
Outdoor recreation benefits American society today more than ever. America spends $2 trillion dollars on crisis medical health care, and obesity and physical inactivity are major risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Physical activity is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, and outdoor recreation is the natural solution – a disease prevention solution – and part of the nation’s existing wellness infrastructure.
- Colorado: Mt. Evans Road opens, fee-free this year (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Forest Service ‘red zone’ report highlights sucesses of fuel treatments, challenges of more exurban growth (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Federal judge says Forest Service must consider critical habitat designations in regional forest plan guidance for lynx (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Forest Service report spotlights fire risk for homes on the edge of wildlands – 85 percent of wildfires in the U.S. are human caused (yubanet.com)
Filed under: Environment, hiking, public lands, recreation, Summit County news, US Forest Service, White River National Forest Tagged: | national forests, outdoor recreation, public land access, public lands, U.S. Forest Service