Program Would Protect Habitat While Connecting American Families with the Natural Landscape

Washington, D.C. (April 19, 2010)
– John F. Calvelli, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, attended the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, hosted by Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, to discuss the conservation of the nation’s great landscapes and re-connecting Americans to their natural surroundings.

The America’s Great Outdoors initiative was conceived by the Obama administration to address the challenges and opportunities of modern-day land conservation in a way that benefits American families, businesses and land owners. The conference brings together stakeholders, including conservation leaders like WCS, governmental authorities, public lands experts, business leaders, farmers and ranchers, sportsmen and women, and youth advocates, to work together to protect their outdoor spaces.

“WCS is proud to work with Secretary Salazar, Chairwoman Sutley and Secretary Vilsack in making sure the next generation of Americans can enjoy the great outdoors as much as we do today,” said Calvelli. “The actions taken to preserve our treasured landscapes for the benefit of people are also important in protecting America’s wildlife. We need to ensure that critical habitat remains intact for the successful oversight and monitoring of domestic endangered and threatened species.”

A similar conference was organized in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, who was also instrumental in founding WCS. Author and historian Douglas Brinkley, who spoke at today’s conference, referenced WCS’s efforts to reintroduce American bison from the herd at the Bronx Zoo into the wild in the early twentieth century as an example of an effective public/private partnership to save an iconic species.

Following the White House Conference, the administration plans to hold several listening sessions with stakeholders around the country to discuss the issue further. Calvelli pushed for the inclusion of WCS’s Bronx Zoo as an ideal location for one session, highlighting its unique engagement with the surrounding community through the School for Wildlife Education and its urban ecological restoration projects. Throughout its network of living institutions, WCS stresses the importance of educating underserved urban youth in developing a national conservation ethic.

Chip Weiskotten: (202-624-8172;
Mary Dixon: (347-840-1242;

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo.Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

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