The Obama Administration is dispatching senior officials from the Agriculture and Interior Departments and the Environmental Protection Agency to the Hudson Valley next week to get input from citizens for “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.” Joined by representatives of other federal agencies, the Interior, Agriculture, and EPA officials will hold sessions on Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6, in Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie. The first session, for junior high, high school and college students, is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center, part of the FDR Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park. Intended for the general public, the second session is slated for next Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Marist College Student Center, Poughkeepsie. The Hudson Valley is one of 25 locations around the nation chosen for the outreach sessions by the federal officials seeking to develop a conservation agenda for the 21st century. Organizers expect to present a report on the discussions to President Obama in November.
Throughout the region, the dialogue is being promoted by New York State and environmental and historical preservation groups. They include Scenic Hudson; Hudson River Sloop Clearwater; Hudson River Valley Greenway; Hudson Valley Tourism; the Land Trust Alliance, New York Program; New York Committee of Highlands Coalition; New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Riverkeeper. Members of the public interested in participating are asked to register in advance by accessing an online address: www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors
Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, described the federal visit as “a terrific opportunity for Hudson Valley residents to tell why being outdoors in the region is special.” He urged broad attendance to “let the Obama administration officials know we want to work with them. If you care about healthy water, working farms, great parks or other parts of being outdoors—come participate.” “Our region’s historic sites, cultural landscapes, agricultural heritage and its legacy of environmental activism are part of why the Hudson River Valley has been called the ‘Landscape that Defined America,'” said Mark Castiglione, acting director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. “We are lucky in the Hudson River Valley to have a vibrant network of grassroots community groups and public-private partnerships that work together to connect people to that landscape. I applaud President Obama for exploring ways our federal partners can help support our region.”