National Geographic : 1990 Apr
FROM THE PRESIDENT The Outdoors-Somethingto Celebrate sITRAVELED across the country a few years ago for the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors, I discovered a reassuring fact: Americans care passionately about their outdoors and are willing to take action pedaling to preserve it. f ,part Our open spaces, fellow citizens told Des Moin me, are great soothers of our souls. Annual G They recharge our creative batteries, Ride Across toning our minds as well as our bodies. the o We Americans, however, have grad ually come to realize that our out doors - like so many of the things we cherish most - is a finite resource that deserves wise use rather than careless exploitation. And we are slowly discovering that decades of mismanagement and neglect have taken their toll. Every year, reports the National Recreation and Park Association, urban and rural development in this country gobbles up nearly half a million acres of wetlands-habitat for countless bird species-and three-quarters of a million acres of farms and forests. Because of such losses the top recommendation of the President's commission three years ago was a call for a "prairie fire" of local action, spreading from community to community to preserve what we have left. Fortunately there now is a major effort helping to light that fire. It's called the National Celebration of the Outdoors. The core of this effort is a broad coalition of more than 50 national conservation-minded groups, and the National Geographic Society is one of them. Dur ing the week beginning April 22-the 20th anniver sary of Earth Day-thousands of communities in all 50 states will celebrate the outdoors in their own way. as cip es re Itstd How does a community go about celebrating its outdoors? With a project as simple as cleaning up a park or planting trees or as far-reaching as forming a land trust to acquire title to threatened open spaces, perhaps to turn them into the recrea ants in te tion corridors known as greenways. ants in the . Register's "The idea of the celebration carries Rregister's at Bicycle on two strong American traditions wa explore concern for the land and a belief that !oors. local action can determine quality of life," says Henry Diamond, a longtime conservationist who has spearheaded the celebration as its chairman. The success of the celebration will rest on each indi vidual's realization that a small voice, if it's strong and clear, can be more powerful than a large group of people who are silent. The celebration's planners fer vently hope that the individual voices will also ring in our halls of government. Clear thinking and action are urgently needed to reinvigorate the Land and Water Conservation Fund, enacted in 1964 to acquire and protect remaining open spaces. The fund has experi enced severe budget cutbacks in the past decade. The overriding conclusion of the President's commission seems more imperative today than ever before. "The next five to fifteen years," the commis sion reported, "will be a critical period for Outdoor America. Decisions made between now and the year 2000 will determine the fate of America's remaining land and water resources." That means now is the time to start thinking big-as big as all outdoors. And, to start celebrating. ^^^^Y/^^C INFORMATION ON THE NATIONAL CELEBRATION OF THE OUTDOORS IS AVAILABLE BY CALLING 1-800-628-LAND.