85% of Americans today live in urban areas. In cities across the country, parks, trails, and open spaces enhance property values, increase tax revenues, attract homebuyers and knowledge workers, and boost economic development. Open spaces in urban areas are key to the future of our public lands, for without that initial introduction to nature and its benefits, the next generation of Americans will never become invested in their health and wellbeing.
At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside, and rising childhood obesity rates adds billions of dollars to health care costs, public lands also improve the mental and physical health of American citizens.
This track focuses on the value of public land investments where most Americans live: in urban areas.
Specific panels include:
Gyms to Crags: A Next-Gen Pipeline
Climbing gyms in cities around America have engaged the most diverse generation of outdoor recreationists in history: millennials. How do we insure these potential stewards transition outside with their diversity intact, and that the ways they recreate are informed by a conservation ethic?
Moderator: Justin Forest Parks, 2017 Emerging Leader
Green Jobs, Urban Playgrounds: Connecting employment and conservation in nontraditional communities
Moderator: Angelou Ezeilo, Executive Director, Greening Youth Foundation
Bridging the Backcountry Divide: How hunting and fishing organizations are connecting urban Americans to public lands
In cities—home to most Americans, and thus to the majority of constituents for US Senators and Representatives—the concept of “public lands” can be abstract. Hunters and anglers are our greatest advocates for public lands, in part because of the fees they pay for licenses and equipment, which generated $1.1B for critical state environmental conservation and recreation projects in 2016 alone.
Problematically, the hunting and angling communities are overwhelmingly Caucasian at a time when the country is becoming a minority majority country—and are primarily the pursuits of rural America at a time when 85% of Americans live in urban areas. One direct result: hunting expenditures—and the associated excise taxes—declined 29% over the past five years.
This panel explores how organizations are connecting urban residents to public land issues by engaging them in hunting and fishing, how this engagement is making hunting and angling more relevant to communities of color, and how the results can help influence the votes of our elected officials and fund conservation and recreation projects throughout the nation.
Moderator: Jessi Johnson, Founder, Artemis (2017 Emerging Leader)