Spotlight On: Great Outdoors America Week

Your Wilderness - July 2012

President Obama declared June Great Outdoors Month, saying “America's natural treasures and unique landscapes have always mirrored the rugged independence and cherished diversity that define our national character. From rocky coasts to lush woodlands to urban parks, our great outdoors have set the scene for countless adventures, trials, and triumphs. During Great Outdoors Month, we celebrate our long legacy of environmental stewardship and resolve to preserve clean and healthy outdoor spaces for generations to come.”  (read the full proclamation).

The president's words could well have been describing the participants at this year's Great Outdoors America Week and the wild land they are working to protect—from West Virginia to California and many places in between.

More than 200 business leaders, local elected officials, sportsmen, students, military veterans, and other conservationists gathered in Washington, DC in late June for Great Outdoors America Week 2012 to call on Congress to protect our nation's wild lands.  The Campaign for America's Wilderness and our partners are working on two dozen bills now before Congress – introduced by Republicans and Democrats alike.  Despite the bi-partisan support for wilderness preservation, Congress has yet to send any of these bills to the president.  Wilderness advocates used GO America Week to remind lawmakers why safeguarding the nation's wild treasures is vitally important, especially now as they are threatened by some who would rather open our lands for corporate profits than preserve them for future generations.  

Despite the lack of a legislative victory to celebrate, participants from around the country remained upbeat as Members of Congress repeatedly expressed gratitude for passionate and diverse wilderness supporters who took time away from their families and busy schedules to travel to Washington to speak out for the places they love. The week culminated with hundreds of supporters attending the Great Outdoors America Reception where Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), sponsor of the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011, summed up the spirit of the week, saying, “Egypt has its pyramids. England has its history. Rome has its art. The United States has the great American outdoors, and we're here to celebrate that.”

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