MONTANA ALERT: Obama Administration Announces Meetings on New Conservation Initiative

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate
links, including eBay, Amazon, Skimlinks, and others.

May 8, 2008

Dear BRC members and supporters in Montana,

We have an important Action Alert on several so-called “listening sessions” having to do with a new conservation effort called the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. The Action Alert is below, but I've written a brief update that's IMPORTANT READING for all.

As always, call or email me if you have any questions or suggestions.
Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


Before I begin, I want to give Kudos to Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg who put the (relatively few) documents the Obama administration released, related to an official Internal National Monument document request, on his website. You can download the documents here:

I just skimmed them over the weekend, and, based on only a quick review, a couple of things stand out. The CEQ (Council of Environmental Quality) seems to have been driving the effort we now know as the Treasured Landscape Initiative (TLI). This was a very tightly controlled planning effort involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service) that involved mostly lands managed by the Department of the Interior (BLM).
DOI Treasured Landscapes brochure

We know from the leaked memo that these plans included very detailed plans for 14 new or expanded national monument designations, totaling some 13 million acres of public and private land. What we don't know is how this Treasured Landscape Initiative is related to yet another Obama administration initiative known as the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. In several of the documents that were made public, these two initiatives are referred to simultaneously, (referred to as “America's Great Outdoors – Treasured Landscape Initiative”)

I guess we'll never know how these two initiatives are related unless and until the most open and transparent administration ever decides to make all the documents public.

In any event, the AGO/TLI effort is likely to include a drastic expansion of the National Landscape Conservation System on BLM lands, including new National Monuments and other protective designations.

Which brings me to a press release from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA):
Outdoor companies offer to host listening sessions for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

And this from a online sports news source:

Listening sessions on the AGO on June 2 in Bozeman, Helena and Missoula, Montana? Did you miss that too? We don't claim to be on top of all of the Montana news, but we haven't heard a word about these meetings in Montana's newspapers until yesterday.

In fact, BRC's staff called the AGO contacts listed on the website and as of 10:00 am, Monday, May 24th, they were telling the public that the meetings have been placed on hold due to focus being placed on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

You and I may have not known about the meetings, but certain people did, and they knew about it more than a week ago. While the CEQ was telling the general public no meetings were planned, the OIA was sending email action alerts to its members encouraging them to attend the meetings. The emails stated, in part: "Outdoor Industry Association has responded to the President’s call to action. OIA is contacting Montana-based member companies to bring the private sector voice to next month’s listening sessions. As both Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be present for the launch of the listening tour, OIA companies are in a prime position to bring pertinent suggestions to the table."

This is really very worrisome. And the fact that the OIA is so involved makes it more so. The OIA is very politically connected and their policies, if not their member businesses, are very preservationist oriented.

Here is some more worriesomeness for you. The Wyss Foundation, one of the many foundations that fund the extreme end of the preservationist-oriented greenie groups, has announced they'll be funding a “Wyss Fellow” to work as “Outreach Director” for Obama's AGO initiative:

Below is an “action alert” on the meetings in Montana. I'm sorry we don't have more information, but we'll blast updates just as soon as we get them.

Until then, strap in... it's going to be a wild ride!

Brian Hawthorne
Public Lands Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 102


The Obama administration has announced a “listening session” regarding something called the America's Great Outdoors Initiative.

Events are planned for Helena, Missoula and Bozeman.

The meeting in Helena is planned for June 2, 2010, from 9 to 11 the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive in Helena.

Meetings are planned the same day, at the same time, at the University Center on the University of Montana campus in Missoula and at the Strand Union Building at the Montana State University campus in Bozeman. However, we do not have any other information on these meetings.

All of the meetings are open to the public, however, people are being asked to RSVP online by 10 p.m. Thursday so the event organizers can plan accordingly.

To RSVP, send an e-mail with your name, address and telephone number to John Hagengruber with the U.S. Forest Service, at Hagengruber also can be reached at 444-4490 to answer questions.

Recreational users need to attend these meetings to find out exactly what affect this initiative may have on your recreational access. There is precious little information about what this initiative will do, but it is reasonable to assume the effort will include additional protective designations for public lands.

Organizers have asked attendees to think about four questions:
What are new land conservation strategies and obstacles?
Hhow to better connect people with the outdoors and obstacles?
How the federal government can work better with local public and private recreation groups?
and What can make current efforts more successful?

Here are some ideas to stimulate thoughts.
Some ideas....

What are new land conservation strategies and obstacles?
All too often "conservation" means reducing public access and recreational uses. The AGO Initiative should explore ways to enhance a diverse range of recreational uses, including motorized and non motorized recreational uses, across federal, state and private lands.

How to better connect people with the outdoors and obstacles?
Federal land managers too often limit or restrict public recreation activities. Federal land managers should focus on recreation friendly management plans that are not restrictive and embrace a wide range of diverse recreational uses, including motorized and non motorized recreation.

How the federal government can work better with local public and private recreation groups?
Ironically, the AGO initiative, and these meetings in Montana amplify this problem. Few recreational advocacy groups know anything about the AGO initiative and what it is. The few recreational groups seem to have close political ties with the administration. This is poison to any initiative that seeks wide public support. The AGO should "go back to the beginning" and invite a wide range of recreational users to the table.

What can make current efforts more successful?
Full disclosure of all information related to the AGO initiative as well as companion efforts such as the Treasured Landscape Initiative.

BRC will blast additional information regarding these meetings as we get it. Please tell your friends and family about these meetings and encourage them to sign up to receive BRC's Action Alerts.

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national (non-profit) trail-saving group that represents over 600,000 recreationists nationwide The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) season is beginning. Federal employees, please mark BlueRibbon Coalition and Check #11402 on your CFC pledge form to support our efforts to protect your access. Join us at 1-800-258-3742

As a non-profit, grassroots organization funded primarily by membership dues and donations, we greatly appreciate your support. Visit to help fund our efforts to protect your trails!



Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom