Release No. 0246.06
Kristin Scuderi 202-720-4623
AGRICULTURE, INTERIOR, COMMERCE, EPA, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
TO HOLD LISTENING SESSIONS ON COOPERATIVE CONSERVATION
WASHINGTON, July 12, 2006-The Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior,
Commerce, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and
the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality today
announced a series of listening sessions across the country to exchange
ideas on incentives, partnership programs, and regulations that can
improve results and promote cooperative conservation and environmental
The meetings are the latest in a series of discussions the
Administration has hosted since the President's Conference on
Cooperative Conservation in August 2005. The conference identified three
broad approaches to improving conservation results: promoting
cooperation within the federal government, promoting cooperation between
the federal government and others, and eliminating barriers to
cooperation in existing policy. Some aspects of these ideas are
reflected in a recently released summary of new legislation. Other
aspects will be explored in the listening sessions announced today.
In announcing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument on
June 15, President Bush reiterated his strong support for cooperative
"My administration is committed to working in a spirit of respect and
cooperation with those seeking to protect our land, and sea, and sky,"
the President said. "We believe cooperative conservation is the best way
to protect the environment. This means we must focus on the needs of
states, and respect the unique knowledge of local authorities, and
welcome the help of private groups and volunteers."
"Through these meetings we want to build on the legacy of cooperative
conservation established under this administration and learn from the
American people how the federal government can be an effective partner
in conservation and environmental stewardship," said Interior Secretary
Dirk Kempthorne. "We will travel the country listening to our fellow
citizens who actually deal with the federal government and its many laws
and programs. We want to share what has worked well and hear how we can
do even better to achieve our conservation and other community goals."
"Environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility. President
Bush is working to better equip America's eager citizen conservationists
with the tools to protect our shared environment," said EPA
Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
"I learned firsthand the power of hearing directly from the people we
serve as I traveled the country recently to discuss future farm policy,"
said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "Similarly, I believe these
conservation meetings will provide invaluable insight to help us advance
the President's cooperative conservation agenda. We are reaching out to
the very people who we are asking to partner with us, and our nation's
natural resources will benefit."
"This is an opportunity for the federal government to get good feedback
from the people closest to conservation issues," said Commerce Secretary
Carlos Gutierrez. "Conservation is an important part of the
Administration's environmental efforts, and we want to hear straight
from our communities on how we can improve."
"America possesses a bounty of both public and private natural resources
and landscapes that sustain and enrich us," said CEQ Chairman James L.
Connaughton. "The conservation opportunity of the next generation
requires continued innovation in how we design policy and implement
action across agencies, across levels of government, and across
communities. I look forward to this next step in carrying out the
President's vision of a nation of stewards working together to
accomplish effective and meaningful results."
The Administration plans to convene at least two dozen sessions, with
meetings in every region of the country. The meetings will focus on
issues, programs, and policies mentioned frequently at the White House
Conference on Cooperative Conservation. Discussion topics will include:
* How can the federal government enhance wildlife habitat, species
protection, and other conservation outcomes through regulatory and
voluntary conservation programs?
* How can the federal government enhance cooperation among federal
agencies and with states, tribes, and local communities in the
application of environmental protection and conservation laws?
* How can the federal government work with states, tribes, and other
public- and private-sector partners to improve science used in
environmental protection and conservation?
* How can the federal government work cooperatively with businesses
and landowners to protect the environment and promote conservation?
* How can the federal government better respect the interests of
people with ownership in land, water, and other natural resources?
The meetings will help inform and guide senior federal officials in
enhancing the Administration's cooperative conservation programs and
The meetings will be held throughout the summer. Dates, times and
specific locations will be announced by mid-July.
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