Horse Council Participates in Conference on Outdoors

The American Horse Council's Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass participated in the April 16 White House Conference on America's Great Outdoors held at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The conference focused on the challenges, opportunities, and innovations surrounding modern-day land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans and American families to the outdoors. Conservation and outdoor recreation leaders from around the country were invited to attend the conference.

President Obama delivered remarks to the conference and signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the America's Great Outdoors Initiative. The goals of the Initiative will be to 1) reconnect Americans with the outdoors by promoting community-based recreation and conservation, advance job and volunteer opportunities related to conservation and recreation, and educate individuals in America's history, culture, and natural beauty; 2) build upon state, local, private, and tribal priorities for the conservation of land, water, wildlife, historic, and cultural resources; and 3) use science-based management practices to restore and protect America's lands and waters.

Panel discussions focused on the importance of America's private working lands like farms, ranches, and working forest, as well as conserving and connecting Americans with the country's public lands.

"We were happy to be invited to the conference," said Pendergrass. "The breakout sessions were an excellent opportunity to remind the administration and other attendees that the conservation and management of America's public and private lands is extremely important to the millions of equestrians throughout the country. Recreational riders are dependent on access to public lands, and without private land to breed, raise, and feed its horses, the equestrian community could not exist."

As part of the initiative, the administration and federal agencies involved will hold listening sessions around the county with tribal leaders, farmers, ranchers, sportsmen, community park groups, foresters, youth groups, businesspeople, educators, state and local governments, and recreational and conservation groups.

"The AHC looks forward to working with President Obama, Congress, the federal agencies, and all stakeholders to preserve and help connect Americans with the outdoors," said AHC President Jay Hickey. "We strongly believe the horse industry can play an important role in getting kids off the couch and help all Americans, including those with physical impairments, to experience the outdoors in a unique and special way."

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