Phil Compton: Preserving America's great outdoors


Published: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.

America has a long a storied history with the great outdoors. Wild stretches of land and abundant wildlife are a part of our social fabric and a vital part of our nation’s consciousness. However, overdevelopment, pollution, and climate change are putting our land and water at a greater risk than ever before. This administration must act and take a leadership role in crafting a vision for protecting and reconnecting people to lands in a warming world.

In launching its America’s Great Outdoors initiative, the administration has laid the groundwork for what this vision could be by holding a series of listening sessions this previous summer intended to gather public input. Sierra Club members attended the Florida public listening session in Kissimmee, and we recommend:

1. Safeguarding our public lands and other habitats from the impacts of climate change by adopting climate-smart management policies for all federal lands and limiting non-climate stressors such as logging, off-road vehicle abuse, and energy development. States, tribes, and private landowners must also receive the support and incentives they need to more fully incorporate their lands into integrated large landscape conservation programs. No where else is this as important as in Florida.

2. Protecting large core areas of wilderness and other protected areas and connecting corridors that give species the space and connectivity necessary to adapt as the climate changes.

3. Putting our public lands to work fighting climate change by protecting our highest carbon-storing old-growth forests. These areas should be immediately protected and federal agencies should be required to manage public lands to maximize natural systems carbon sequestration.

4. Prioritizing efforts to reconnect youth and all Americans with the natural world and our country’s great outdoors.

This administration must ensure that they can support local economies and create American jobs on American lands by protecting water resources; sustaining parks, working farms, forests and ranches; providing places for outdoor recreation and tourism; and safeguarding people and nature from climate change.

Phil Compton,

Sierra Club Florida Regional Office

St. Petersburg

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