Access Fund Goes to White House Conservation Conference

~Brady Robinson, AF Executive Director

Last week, I was honored to represent the Access Fund and the climbing community at the White House Conference on Conservation, hosted by President Obama, along with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Sheila Jackson Lee and other senior officials.

White House conservation conferences aren’t new. President Theodore Roosevelt held a conference of governors in 1908 to discuss the proper use of natural resources. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy held a multi-day conference on conservation, and in 2005, George W. Bush held a conference on cooperative conservation. While there is certainly an element of political theater whenever the President is involved, this administration’s commitment to conservation is sincere. This year’s conference focused on three key areas: renewing communities by connecting people to nearby lands and waters; restoring rivers for people and wildlife; and conserving rural lands through new models for working lands and wildlife.

I attended with several of my Outdoor Alliance colleagues. We showed up in force with executive directors Mark Singleton (American Whitewater), Mike Van Abel (International Mountain Bicycling Association) and Wade Blackwood (American Canoe Association), as well as longtime partners including American Mountain Guides Association director Betsy Winter and Western Spirit Cycling’s Ashley Korenblat. American Canoe Association’s Cate Huxtable, along with OA’s Policy Architect Adam Cramer and Grasstops Director Tom Flynn, rounded out the team. Human powered outdoor recreation was at the table in a big way, which is what it takes to secure favorable policies for our activities and special places.