American Great Outdoor Activities
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor visited two of the events that were among the several held in 2011 by the Region and its partners to advance the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
President Obama launched the initiative in 2010, calling on the Secretary of the Interior and other federal officials to develop a 21st century conservation agenda that will protect America’s natural and cultural resources, and connect people to the outdoors through jobs, education, recreation and service.
In February 2011, Secretary Salazar participated in an America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) event in Fresno, California, where about 100 volunteers gathered to plant native trees and do other work at Jensen River Ranch along the San Joaquin River. Secretary Salazar talked with members of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust and, at one point, even paddled a canoe for a time.
American's Great Outdoors logo
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (front) and George Folsom, president of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, paddle a canoe in the San Joaquin River during an America’s Great Outdoors event
In July 2011, Commissioner Connor visited a major exhibit on AGO at the California State Fair in Sacramento. The exhibit, which was popular with the public, was a cooperative effort between agencies within the Department of the Interior.
With hundreds of thousands of people visiting the fair, there was a steady stream passing through the exhibit, which was staffed by employees of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.
Commissioner Connor was briefed on specific aspects of the exhibit, which featured activities for all ages and highlighted various aspects of the AGO initiative and the roles of the Department of the Interior agencies.
The exhibit showcased California’s wildlife; landscapes; and rivers, lakes and reservoirs. It informed visitors about the myriad ways they can enjoy the outdoors, from bird watching and white-water rafting, to canoeing and driving dune buggies. Activities to engage youth included making water-related bracelets, painting bird masks, playing a bird identification game called “Bird Bingo,” and posting promises to help preserve America’s outdoors.
As part of AGO’s agenda of connecting people to the outdoors through jobs, the Klamath Basin Area Office, located in southern Oregon and northern California, worked with the Klamath Tribes to employ a high school student for three months during the summer of 2011. The Summer Youth Employment Program allows a student to enter the workplace, in this instance, receiving personalized attention from a biologist. The high school student who was selected received training across the spectrum of activities performed by members of the Area Office’s Fisheries Division.
The Region also supported--and continues to support--the AGO initiative through a wide range of interpretive and recreational activities at facilities such as the American River Water Education Center near Folsom Lake, and at New Melones, Berryessa and Shasta lakes.
Among the most popular and best known of the events are the Catch a Special Thrill (C.A.S.T.) for Kids Fishing events. Children with disabilities or disadvantages have an opportunity to go fishing out on a boat, many for the first time. The events are supported by Reclamation in a broad partnership with partner agencies and community groups.
More information on the Region’s AGO activities: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/AGO/