Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Will the AGO Help the IAT or Not?


by Drew Hanson

Unveiled in 2011 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) report had good ideas. Among them was to place greater federal emphasis on the Ice Age Trail (IAT). The story was highlighted in November of that year in, One of the Top 100 Great Outdoors Projects in America. 

More than a year later, how has the AGO improved the IAT?

Well, ehem, there was another proclamation.

On September 12, 2012, Secretary Salazar signed Order Number 3323, which established the America’s Great Outdoors as a formal program for the Interior Department. It seeks greater collaboration between federal offices and with state partners. The vision is to connect Americans, especially children, to the outdoors and conserve and restore America’s land, water and wildlife. The Order is available from the Department of the Interior.

NPS photo from the IAT in southern Wisconsin.
Based on input from more than 50 public meetings held around the Nation, over 100,000 comments and consultations with the Governors of all 50 states, the Order specified a set of inaugural projects. Twenty “Landscapes of National Significance” were designated, including the Everglades in Florida, the Crown of the Continent in Montana, and the Great Lakes. Also designated were 28 “Landscapes of Regional Significance” that include the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. It’s an impressive list of landscapes.

If you’re not a cynic, it sounds like needed help is on its way. Maybe the federal IAT partner will begin a land acquisition program as suggested in the initial AGO report and promoted for years including recently in National Park Service Land Acquisition for the Ice Age Trail should begin now.

Last month we learned that Secretary Salazar would be leaving his post by the end of March. Today President Obama nominated Sally Jewell to replace him. Will the new Secretary give the Ice Age Trail the attention outlined in the America’s Great Outdoors Program or not?

Pedestrians want to know (and are ready to help).