America's Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report

President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative on April 16, 2010, to

  1. US Department of the Interior
    President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative on April
    16, 2010, to
    Transcript Header:
    America's Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    Transcript Body:
    • 1. Department of the InteriorAmerica’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report November 2011
    • 2. ON THE COVERSilver Creek Preserve© HarolD E. MalDE
    • 3. Department of the InteriorAmerica’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report November 2011
    • 4. ContentsIntroductionalabama 7 Gulf Coast Restoration 7 Conservation Education for Alabama’s Youth 7alaska 8 Denali State Park Trails 8 Kachemak Bay Water Trail 9arizona 10 Rio Salado 10 Lake Havasu National Bluewater Trail System 11arkansas 12 Delta Heritage Trail 12 Arkansas River Trail 13California 14 San Joaquin River 14 Los Angeles River Trail & San Gabriel River Trail Improvements 15Colorado 16 Rocky Mountain Greenway 16 Yampa River Basin 17Connecticut 18 Connecticut River 18 Naugatuck River 19Delaware 20 First State National Historical Park 20 Delaware National Bayshore 21District of Columbia 23 Anacostia Riverwalk Trail 23Florida 24 Shingle Creek Trail 24 East Central Regional Rail-Trail Project 25Georgia 27 Get Outdoors Georgia 27 Panola Mountain State Park 27Hawaii 28 North Kona – South Kohala Coastline / 28 Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Wailua River National Blueway 29Idaho 30 Boise River Greenbelt 30 Owyhee Land Exchange 31Illinois 32 Calumet Millennium Reserve 32 Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge 33
    • 5. Indiana 34 Wabash River—Healthy Rivers Initiative 34 Indiana Dunes 35Iowa 36 Loess Hills 36 Southern Prairie Pothole National Wildlife Refuge 37Kansas 38 Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area 38 Kansas River Water Trail 39Kentucky 40 Kentucky River Water Trail 40 Dawkins Line Rail-Trail 41louisiana 42 Urban Waters Initiative 42 Restoration of Lake Pontchartrain Basin 43Maine 44 Penobscot River Restoration Project 44 Keeping Maine’s Forests 45Maryland 46 Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park 46 Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail 47Massachusetts 48 Blackstone River Valley Greenway 48 Connecticut River 49Michigan 50 Detroit River 50 Detroit River Restoration 51Minnesota 52 Upper Minnesota River Watershed 52 Twin Cities Parks: Mississippi National River & Recreation Area 53Mississippi 54 Mississippi Coastal Heritage Trail 54 Pascagoula River National Blueway 55Missouri 57 Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Revitalization 57 Ozark Trail 57Montana 59 Crown of the Continent 59 Fort Missoula Regional Park 59Nebraska 60 Platte River Recovery Implementation Program 60 Platte River Access 61
    • 6. Nevada 62 Lorenzi Park Renovation 62 Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails 63New Hampshire 64 Northern Forest 64 Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge 65New Jersey 66 Barnegat Bay 66 Barnegat Bay 67New Mexico 68 Price’s Dairy 68 Aztec Ruins National Monument 69New York 70 Harlem River/Roberto Clemente State Park 70 Finger Lakes Trail and Water Access Improvements 71North Carolina 72 Waccamaw River National Blueway 72 Elk Knob—Long Hope Valley 73North Dakota 74 Dakota Grasslands 74 Missouri River Forest Restoration Project 75ohio 76 Ohio to Erie Trail Connections 76 Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed Wetland Development 77oklahoma 78 Honey Springs Battlefield Park 78 Blue River 79oregon 80 Table Rocks 80 Willamette Valley Conservation Plan 81Pennsylvania 82 Lower Susquehanna Landscape Initiative 82 Urban Greening 83rhode Island 84 Blackstone River Valley Greenway 84 Blackstone River Valley Project 85South Carolina 87 Longleaf Pine Focal Area 87 Three Rivers Greenway 87South Dakota 88 Blood Run National Historic Landmark 88 Dakota Grasslands 89
    • 7. Tennessee 90 Paint Rock River Watershed 90 Tennessee Riverpark’s Chattanooga Riverwalk 91Texas 93 Rio Grande Watershed 93 West Galveston Bay 93Utah 94 Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 94 Jordan River Parkway 95Vermont 96 Winooski River Watershed Project 96 Connecticut River 97Virginia 98 Fort Monroe National Historical Park 98 Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail 99Washington 101 Pacific Northwest Trail - Olympic Discovery Trail Convergence 101 Lower Columbia Water Trail 101West Virginia 102 Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge 102 New River Gorge National River 103Wisconsin 104 Lake Michigan Water Trail 104 Ice Age Trail 105Wyoming 107 Devils Tower Conservation Easement 107 Grand Teton National Park Multi-Use Pathways Program 107appendix a: Youth Engagement 108appendix B: Multi-State Projects 110 Mississippi River Bluffs 110 Connecticut River 110 Dakota Grasslands 111 Blackstone River Greenway 111 Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem 111 Indiana Dunes 112 Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail 112appendix C: Glossary 113appendix D: acronyms 117
    • 8. Introduction President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative on April 16, 2010, to foster a 21st-century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people. He charged the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environ- mental Protection Agency, and the Chair of the White House Council on Environ- mental Quality with leading this initiative. The President directed senior Administra- tion officials to undertake an unprecedented listening tour to learn from communities outside of the Nation’s Capital that have developed innovative and successful conser- vation initiatives. The result was perhaps the most robust public conversation about conservation in American history: 51 public listening sessions with more than 10,000 participants and more than 105,000 comments submitted. Building on this conversa- tion, on February 16, 2011, federal agencies submitted to the President “America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations,” a report which defines an action plan for conservation and recreation in the 21st century. The AGO report identified 10 major goals and 75 action items to advance this initia- tive, from expanding youth programs to increasing public awareness about conserva- tion to better managing our public lands. Among these were three major place-based goals to focus the collective conservation and recreation efforts of the federal govern- ment: create and enhance urban parks and greenspaces, renew and restore rivers, and conserve large, rural landscapes. During the spring and summer of 2011, Secretary Salazar continued the conversation with Americans outside Washington, this time seeking recommendations in each state about opportunities that support the three place-based goals of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Secretary Salazar and his leadership team at the Department of the Interior asked Governors and their senior leadership and stakeholders in all 50 states to identify specific projects in which the federal government could partner with states to advance the AGO goals. The response we received was outstanding. Many states identified far more worthy project ideas than we could list in this report. Based on this input, this America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report summarizes two project ideas in each state for the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies to partner with state and local governments and other stakeholders on a shared conservation and recreation agenda. Here are some highlights and themes we heard from states and stakeholders around the country: 1. People value close-to-home places to access the outdoors. Many of the projects identified seek to create, expand, or improve parks, trails, recreational access, and open space for people to get outdoors in places near to where they live or work. From completing trail connections all over the country to re-establishing access to the Harlem River in New York City to restoring Lake Calumet in South Chicago to supporting the Boise River
    • 9. Greenway, all over the country are focused on improving the quality of life for their citizens through parks, trails, and open space. Close-to-home parks and greenspaces are especially valuable in connecting young people with the outdoors. 2. People love their rivers. Since most communities are located along a river, rivers are a particularly good way to connect Americans to the great outdoors. And rivers can be restored through community-scale efforts, encouraging people to become and stay involved. From riverside trails for hiking and biking, to water trails, to multi-dimensional river recreation and restoration initiatives, to projects that aim to restore river ecology, we are inspired and encouraged by the range and diversity of proposed river- related projects at the local, state, and regional levels. 3. People want to conserve our large, rural landscapes. Americans have a deep appreciation for farmers, ranchers, and foresters and for conserving habitat for wildlife. They also understand the need to think big—at the watershed or landscape scale—to maintain these working lands for food and fiber and the wildlife that depend upon them. Across the country, we heard about the need to protect river valleys, lands that connect public lands to private lands, and areas that should be set aside for their special values.AGO takes as its premise that lasting conservation solutions should rise from the Americanpeople—that the protection of our natural heritage is a non-partisan objective shared by allAmericans. The locally supported outdoor projects identified in this report aim to reconnectAmericans to the natural world through parks, trails, and rivers and to conserve and restoreworking lands and wildlife habitat. The projects will also create jobs through travel, tourism,and outdoor recreation activities. Since the number of ideas received far exceeded what weare able to put in this report, those listed are intended to be a first set of projects on whichthe Department can partner with states and communities to make America’s Great Out-doors a reality. In future years, we hope to expand our partnership with states, communities,and stakeholders.Given the fiscal constraints facing the federal government, the Department of the Interiorwill not be in a position to provide significant financial resources to most projects. Interiorwill work with states and communities to advance these projects with existing resourcesthrough technical support and with its administrative authorities. It will also partner withstates and communities to leverage grants, private funding, and other resources to helpensure a project’s success.The release of this Fifty-State Report represents the conclusion of another chapter in theongoing dialogue with the American people on building a conservation and recreationagenda for the 21st century and the beginning of an important chapter of translating theAGO vision into on-the-ground action.
    • 10. 6America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report all PHoToS CoUrTESY US DEParTMENT oF INTErIor UNlESS CrEDITED.
    • 11. Alabama Gulf Coast Restoration Landscape Conservation Gulf Coast Project Description and Need: The Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, more than 31,000 square miles and home to two million people, is a key area in need of conservation. The region’s wetland and pine forest ecosystems are critical habitats for many threatened and endangered species like the Red Cockaded Woodpecker and Red Hills Salamander. The region is expected to see significant new development and population growth during the next 25 years, putting more pressure on these species and their habitat. The State of Alabama has partnered with federal agencies and conservation organizations to acquire easements to conserve habitat, protect migration corridors, and enhance recreational opportunities. The partnership’s primary focus is on conservation of the remaining longleaf pine ecosystem. Another important goal of this project is to provide a conservation buffer for local military activities, including “Dark Areas.” Potential Action: Support acquisition of conservation easements to conserve critical habitat for protected species and the continuation of military activities at Fort Rucker, Fort Benning, and Eglin Air Force Base. Partners: FWS, DOD, State of Alabama, and University of Alabama. Conservation Education for Alabama’s Youth Education Alabama Project Description and Need: As in many parts of the country, there is an increasing discon- nect between Alabama’s citizens and the outdoors. This disconnect shows up in the decreased amount of time young people are in the outdoors, the increased time they spend in front of electronic devices, and the decline in outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing. Alabama is seeking partners to help it address this growing disconnect between people and nature, between urban and rural communities, and between youth and outdoor recreation. Opportuni- ties include an expansion of outdoor recreation in public schools curricula, including hunter and angler education. Potential Action: Partner with the State of Alabama to develop environmental education programs and to connect young people to the outdoors. Partners: NPS, Alabama State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Public Health, and Alabama Department of Education. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 7
    • 12. Alaska Denali State Park Trails Trails Central Alaska Project Description and Need: Denali State Park sits on the south side of the Alaska Range, adjacent to Denali National Park and Preserve. The 325,000-acre park is remark- able for its spectacular views of towering glaciers and ice-carved gorges. Glacial streams wind down to the tundra, home to moose, grizzly bears, caribou, and other wildlife. With its beautiful views and unique landscape, the region is popular for sightseeing and recreation by both residents and out-of-state visitors, and anticipated developments in the region are expected to increase demand. The state park provides a range of recreation experiences that often complement those available in the national park, including a trail system with several trailheads along the state’s major north-south highway. The state needs assistance to plan, develop, and maintain an all-season trail system that allows for optimum outdoor recreational use of the area while protecting the natural and cultural resources of the park. Potential Action: Provide technical assistance from the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) to develop a trail management plan with recommenda- tions for design, construction, management, and potential funding sources. Partners: NPS, State of Alaska, and Denali State Park.8 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 13. Kachemak Bay Water TrailWater TrailHomer, AlaskaProject Description and Need: The goal of the Kachemak Bay Water Trails Association inHomer is to identify a designated water trail suitable for small watercraft from the HomerSpit up the north shore of Kachemak Bay and down the south shore to Seldovia. This trailwould connect communities at both ends of the bay to one another and to the outstandingrecreational and educational offerings of the bay. The proposed trail is approximately 125miles long and the proposal will identify access points, landing sites, and recreational facilitiesavailable to the public. Educational information related to flora and fauna, Native cultures, andgeology will greatly enhance recreational and educational opportunities and promote watersafety. The Kachemak Bay Water Trail will emphasize stewardship of the resources and pro-viding Alaska youth and adults with a fun way to learn about the bay, beaches, estuaries, anduplands and their importance to the marine ecosystem.Potential Action: Provide technical assistance from RTCA to develop a marine-based watertrail system, provide recommendations for development of the water trail, build partnerships,identify funding sources, and designate the project as a National Water Trail.Partners: NPS, Homer Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, Homer Wooden BoatSociety, Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, Center for Coastal Studies, Alaska State Parks,FWS National Maritime Wildlife Refuge, Kachemak Bay National Estuarine ResearchReserve, and City of Homer. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 9
    • 14. Arizona Rio Salado Urban Park and Youth Engagement Phoenix Project Description and Need: The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is a nature cen- ter in the heart of the City of Phoenix’s Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, a 600-acre park along the Salt River. Located less than two miles from downtown Phoenix, the center is a gateway to lush Sonoran riparian habitat used by over 200 species of birds and other wildlife. The River Pathways Program supports the AGO pri- orities of restoring and revitalizing a significant river while creating more green space, urban parkways, and fishing opportunities for residents of Phoenix. The project will engage youth in conservation and moni- toring in the Agua Fria National Monument; open a new recreation area near the shore of Lake Pleasant Regional Park on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Maricopa County Parks; and build and maintain 18 to 20 miles of trails within the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area. The River Pathways Program has a goal of educating 25,000 Phoenix inner city youth (94 percent of whom are minority students) in basic environmental literacy by 2015. As part of the project, young people will build regional trails, monitor fragile riparian resourc- es, and restore avian and aquatic habitat. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial support to build trails and develop the recreation site at Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Expand urban fish- ing opportunities. Partners: BLM, BOR, FWS, ACE, Audubon Arizona, City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Valley Forward, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Phoenix Union High School District, local Work- force Investment Boards, Phoenix College, and Student Conservation Association. DIaNE lIGGETT10 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 15. Lake Havasu National Bluewater Trail System Water Trail, Recreation, and Access Lake Havasu City Project Description and Need: Lake Havasu provides boating, fishing, camping, and other outdoor recreation for two million visitors a year. The river/lake-based trail will be comple- mented by a parallel non-motorized trail along the lakeshore. Both would connect the city to two national wildlife refuges at either end of Lake Havasu, three state parks, new public fish- ing facilities, six new accessible shoreline camps to accommodate disabled visitors, and over 80 existing boating camps on BLM public lands. The project would highlight over 10 years of work by public/private partners to improve the reservoir’s fisheries habitat, shoreline access, and recreation opportunities, as well as its eco- nomic and education potentials. The partners plan to engage a Youth Conservation Corps team in 2012 to do some of the land-based restoration and enhancement work. The project will support the local and regional economies and advance AGO recreation goals. Potential Action: Provide financial support for the public access and campground projects. Work with DOI bureaus to engage local Youth Conservation Corps. Support designation as a National Water Trail. Partners: BLM, FWS, BOR, Arizona State Parks Department, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Youth Conservation Corps, Anglers United, Lake Havasu Marine Association, Mohave County Workforce Investment Board, Havasu for Youth, Lake Havasu City.DIaNE lIGGETT America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 11
    • 16. Arkansas Delta Heritage Trail Rural Landscapes Helena to Arkansas City, Arkansas Project Description and Need: Arkansas State Parks acquired the Delta Heritage Trail in 1993 when the abandoned Union Pacific Rail line was converted to the “Rails to Trails” program. Ultimately, the state hopes to complete a 73-mile hiking and biking trail through the heart of the delta that would provide recreational access to a largely inaccessible area. The area includes vital habitat for 265 species of neotropical migratory and resident songbirds and is the most important wintering area for mallard ducks in the United States. Designated as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, the area includes the largest contiguous block of bottomland hardwood forest remaining on any tributary of the Mississippi River. The state has now completed 14 miles of the trail, and there is an opportunity to build more. The trail skirts the White River National Wildlife Refuge and Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery National Historic Landmark, part of the NPS Japanese American Confinement Sites Program. It also runs along the Osotuoy Unit of Arkansas Post National Monument. When completed, the project promises to provide greater opportunities for outdoor recre- ation, to increase public understanding of the diverse landscapes of the Arkansas delta, and to enhance partnerships between DOI, agricultural interests, state agencies, and environmental organizations. It also will engage young people in outdoor recreation and education. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance for trail construction. Partners: NPS, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas State University, Arkansas Delta Heritage Development Initiative, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas State Parks, and the communities of McGehee and Dumas.12 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 17. Arkansas River TrailUrban Parks and Wildlife AreasDowntown Little Rock, Arkansas to West Little Rock, ArkansasProject Description and Need: Arkansas, “The Natural State,” takes pride in theirconnection to the outdoors. Already, a chain of parks, on both sides of the ArkansasRiver, links a complex of city trails and parks that runs from the Clinton PresidentialCenter in downtown Little Rock to the Big Dam Bridge in West Little Rock. The stateand the communities envision the Arkansas River Trail reaching from downtown LittleRock to Pinnacle Mountain State Park (and the 225-mile Ouachita Wilderness Trail)on the southern shore, and from downtown North Little Rock to Cook’s Landing on thenorthern shore. These routes will directly connect city residents to the surrounding ruralareas. A pedestrian bridge across Murray Lock and Dam and a renovated railroad bridgenear the Presidential Library Center and Park will help create another 14-mile loop. Alltogether this project will open approximately 24 miles of trail in central Arkansas.While a great deal of progress has already been made in developing these trails andparks, another 12.5 miles of the Arkansas River Trail needs to be completed.Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance to acquire and complete theArkansas River Trail.Partners: NPS, State of Arkansas, and City of Little Rock. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 13
    • 18. California San Joaquin River National Blueway, Restoration, and Recreation Friant Dam to Confluence at Merced River Project Description and Need: In 2006, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program settled an 18-year lawsuit regarding the provision of sufficient water for fish habitat in the San Joaquin River. The program is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore flows from Friant Dam to the confluence with the Merced River. It will re-establish vital habitat on an impor- tant stretch of river and achieve the conservation goals of both the state and AGO. Among the benefits are restoring large areas of desiccated habitat and reinstating salmon runs in the watershed while avoiding adverse impacts on water supply. Along today’s San Joaquin River is a sparse, but vital, network of places where people can experience and enjoy the river. The San Joaquin River Partnership is a collaboration of 13 private, nonprofit organizations committed to seeing the river restored. Working with the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, and with other federal and state agencies, the Partnership has adopted a vision for a San Joaquin River National Blueway as a mosaic of parks, wildlife refuges, and other public- access areas that create recreational opportunities on land and water. The blueway is antici- pated to become a regional and statewide asset that fosters health, strengthens community ties, enhances learning, and supports restoration and conservation efforts. Potential Action: Support restoration flows to the San Joaquin River as well as the reintro- duction of salmon. Support new recreation access to the river for exploring the San Joaquin River from headwaters to Delta. Designate the San Joaquin River as a National Blueway. Partners: FWS, BOR, NPS, San Joaquin River Partnership, NOAA-NMFS, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Water Resources, Friant Water Users Authority, NRDC, and others.14 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 19. Los Angeles River Trail &San Gabriel River Trail ImprovementsTrails and Urban ParkLos Angeles, California RegionProject Description and Need: Almost 5.7 million people live within 10 miles ofCalifornia’s Los Angeles River Trail, and 5.5 million are within 10 miles of the nearbySan Gabriel River Trail. These recreational trails along Los Angeles County’s principalrivers connect urban residents to a network of the region’s great parks and outdoorrecreation areas, including Los Angeles State Historic Park, Griffith Park, the ArroyoSeco, and Angeles National Forest. Improvements to these trails will ensure they continueto provide healthy recreation, connect neighborhoods to existing outdoor recreation areas,and provide a non-motorized transportation alternative.The City of Los Angeles has committed to connecting people to the rivers and trailsthrough the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP), which identifiesover 240 potential projects to restore riverside habitat, increase public access to the river,and promote recreational opportunities around the river. Construction of these projectsis expected to create as many as 19,000 new permanent jobs. Proposed projects includebike trails, parks, and wetland restoration. Federal support for the LARRMP through theUS Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has already made possible several projects torestore ecosystems in the Sepulveda Basin and along the Arroyo Seco, conserving high-value wildlife habitat with up-to-downstream connections and links between in-channelriparian to outer-bank habitats. These actions will be greatly expanded with comple-tion of the USACE LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study, which proposesextensive habitat restoration along a 10-mile stretch of the river that includes the citiesof Los Angeles, Burbank, and Glendale; connections to the Verdugo Wash and ArroyoSeco confluences, critical links between the river’s soft-bottom Glendale Narrows habitatand upstream habitats in Griffith and Elysian Parks; and future development of the JuanBautisa de Anza National Trail.Potential action: Provide technical and financial support for the parks, trails, and habitatrestoration aspects of the LARRMP.Partners: NPS, State of California, local governments, and many nonprofit partners. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 15
    • 20. Colorado Rocky Mountain Greenway Urban Parks, Trails, and River Access Denver, Colorado Metropolitan Area Project Description and Need: As a result of decades of private, local, state, and federal investment, signifi- cant areas of open land are now protected and avail- able for public use in and around the Denver metro- politan area. This investment includes establishment of 40,000 acres of parks and open space, creation of over 140 miles of trails, and completion of water qual- ity and recreation improvements within the Denver metro greenway system. There has been significant federal, state, and local investment in the cleanup and restoration of the Rocky Flats and Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuges, as well as private and public investment in the creation of Confluence and Commons parks in the Central Platte Valley in Denver. An investment of $100 million in these envi- ronmental and recreational improvements has created an estimated $10 billion of related economic benefits. To maximize the benefit of these disparate assets, federal, state, and local partners want to create links to creeks, river corridors, and local, state, and fed- eral parks and open space areas. The state and DOI are joining forces to create a “Rocky Mountain Greenway”—a system of uninterrupted trails linking the three national wildlife refuges in the metro region (Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Two Ponds NWR, and Rocky Flats NWR) and other trail systems in the Denver Metro Region. The NPS also will explore creating connections from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Denver metro area. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial support to connect the three national wildlife refuges in the metro region. Provide financial assistance for water quality and riparian habitat improvements and for work to extend trails and open space along the South Platte River and Sand Creek Greenway. Partners: FWS, NPS, State of Colorado, local govern- ments, and nonprofit and private sector partners.16 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 21. Yampa River BasinRiver Basin Conservation and Restoration;Large Landscape ConservationNorthwestern ColoradoProject Description and Need: The Yampa River Basin in northwestern Colorado is oneof the most hydrologically and biologically intact watersheds in the West. As the largestnaturally flowing river in Colorado, the Yampa hosts high-quality recreational experiencesfor boaters and fisherman. It provides roosting and nesting habitat for the sandhill crane,blue heron, and bald eagle. The river is also vital winter habitat for Colorado’s secondlargest elk herd, and large deer herds, making the area a world-class hunting destination.Good stewardship and conservation of these lands and waters—both public and pri-vate—is critical to ensuring strong local economies built around ranching, wildlife, andrecreation that contribute greatly to the economic and ecological health of the state ofColorado and the Colorado River basin as a whole. Two recent successes in the areainclude 61,485 acres of private land on 131 different properties that have been placedunder conservation easement and extensive public and private investment in the UpperColorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The creation of the Yampa RiverState Park, the reconstruction of important buildings at Dinosaur National Monument,and recreation improvements at Elkhead Reservoir are the first of many steps that willhelp spur tourism, recreation, jobs, and greater public use, all goals of AGO. The strongerand better coordination among governments at all levels and local communities affordedby AGO will help leverage current resources to increase the pace and scale of futureaccomplishments, including voluntary conservation of working agriculture lands, invest-ment in forest management and wildlife corridors, and support for a diverse and sustain-able outdoor recreation economy.Potential action: Support the acquisition of conservation easements from willing sellers.Increase efforts to control invasive vegetation that seriously threatens important river val-ues, and work at the headwaters of the river to conserve and promote important fisheries.Partners: BLM, FWS, NPS, State of Colorado, county and local governments, land con-servation groups, veterans organizations, and youth corps. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 17
    • 22. Connecticut Connecticut River National Blueway with Urban Park Connections Hartford Project Description and Need: Over the course of the Connecticut River’s 410-mile journey from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the river ties together four New England states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The river is also the centerpiece of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge that encompasses the entire watershed, including several federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Connecticut. The river flows through Hartford where public agencies have made significant strides to reconnect residents to the river through new riverside parks, a new science center, recreational trails, and a highly successful urban youth rowing program. Despite the success in developing varied recreational opportunities on the Connecticut River, there is still a need for more access points for water-based recreation and to draw citizens to the river. The goal is to continue to support local efforts to enhance river access. The state envisions new launch sites for canoes and kayaks, more trails along the river and its major tributaries (including the Farmington and Salmon rivers), added camping areas, hosting public events, and making further investments in open space near the river. The state also is working in Hartford to expand the city park system and join it to the Connecticut River. Its centerpiece, the GreenWalk, is a one-mile chain of parks and plazas connecting the gold-domed Capitol in Bushnell Park to the Connecticut River waterfront. Potential Actions: Provide technical and financial support to increase access to the Connecticut River. Designate a portion of the Connecticut River in Connecticut as a National Blueway. Partners: FWS, NPS, State of Connecticut, City of Hartford, Riverfront Recapture, Friends of Conte Refuge, and other nonprofit partners.18 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 23. Naugatuck RiverNational Blueway, Access, and RestorationWestern ConnecticutProject Description and Need: Western Connecticut’s Naugatuck River encompassesa 310-square-mile watershed that includes former heavily industrialized urban areas,including the City of Waterbury. Over the last decade, the river has undergone a rebirthwith millions of dollars invested to improve water quality, restore habitat, and enhancerecreational opportunities. The state has focused on upgrading treatment plants—includ-ing a $100 million project in Waterbury—and removing dams and other structures.Associated with the above efforts, the state has embarked on a comprehensive programto revitalize major urban areas along the river. The state envisions a multi-sector partner-ship with NPS, NOAA, Trout Unlimited, and the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerceto help shape a comprehensive corridor initiative to enhance recreational access, increasefishing opportunities, restore and improve natural resources, and stimulate economicdevelopment along this National Blueway.Potential Action: Help the state and communities to restore and enhance the river bycompleting the Naugatuck River Greenway, creating new public access to the river, andopening fish passages on the river.Partners: NPS, FWS, NOAA, Trout Unlimited, and regional Chamber ofCommerce. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 19
    • 24. Delaware First State National Historical Park Urban Parks and Historic Preservation New Castle - Eastern Shore Project Description and Need: Delaware was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and is now the only state with no National Park area. Designating a National Park area would boost tourism and pro- vide urban outdoor recreation opportunities to residents and visitors. The purpose of the park would be to preserve and interpret resources associated with early Dutch, Swedish, and English settlements, as well as Delaware’s role in the birth of the nation. The concept is that the park connects four interpretative centers linked to sites across the state to tell a comprehensive story of Delaware’s coastal heritage. In cooperation with state agencies and local govern- ments, NPS would manage the centers and provide interpretation staff at various attractions. With this “hub and spoke” concept, park boundaries would be drawn loosely to include as many sites as possible that are representative of the themes. The First State National Historical Park Act was introduced in 2009 and awaits Congressional approval. It is supported by the State of Delaware. Potential action: Support Congressional approval of First State National Historical Park. Partners: NPS, State of Delaware, local governments, and nonprofit organizations.20 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 25. Delaware National BayshoreLandscape ConservationEastern Shore, DelawareProject Description and Need: The Delaware Bayshore is a widely recognized areaof global ecological significance. Extensive coastal marshes, beaches, and agriculturallands annually support more than a half-million shorebirds during both spring and fallmigration. This makes the Bayshore one of the best birding and hunting areas on theEast Coast. More than half of the Bayshore region is protected as refuges, wildlife areas,agriculture preserves, parks, and cultural heritage sites.The state seeks DOI’s assistance to conserve, restore, and provide access to the Bayshoreby leveraging federal, state, and private resources. Coordinated landscape-scale conserva-tion among federal, state, and local agencies, private conservation organizations, privatelandowners, and local communities would ensure protection of diverse natural habitatsand improve recreational opportunities for 30 million Americans who live within athree-hour drive of the Bayshore. Delaware would also like to partner with DOI to eval-uate the potential for designating its eastern shore as America’s first “National Bayshore.”This project aligns with many AGO objectives: landscape-scale conservation, enhance-ment of vital habitat, restoration of waterways, connection of local communities to theoutdoors, and recreation.Potential Action: Collaborate with Delaware to conserve and restore the DelawareBayshore and to enhance recreation. Evaluate the possibility of designating the area asthe first National Bayshore.Partners: NPS, FWS, State of Delaware, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 21
    • 26. 22 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 27. District of Columbia Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Recreation and Access Project Description and Need: The Anacostia Riverwalk is a planned multi-use trail along the east and west banks of the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. The trail will provide a safe and convenient means for people to access the Anacostia Waterfront and enjoy Anacostia Park. Once completed, the Riverwalk will consist of a 48-mile trail system that will include 20 miles of trail along the Anacostia waterfront within the District of Columbia. The Riverwalk will connect 16 waterfront neighborhoods to the Anacostia Park and the Anacostia River. District of Columbia residents and visitors will be able to walk and bike on the River- walk to several popular destinations, including the Fish Wharf, new baseball stadium, Poplar Point, Navy Yard, historic Anacostia, RFK stadium, Kingman Island, and Na- tional Arboretum. At either end, the trail will connect to the National Mall at the Tidal Basin and to Bladensburg Marina Park in Prince George’s County, MD. Access points are being linked to neighborhoods and points of interest along the length of the trail. Regionally, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail will connect to the Fort Circle Trails, Blad- ensburg Trail, Mount Vernon Trail, and C&O Trail. Nationally, the Riverwalk Trail will provide access to the East Coast Greenway, a network of bicycle trails linking Maine to Florida. The District of Columbia’s Metrorail system will interface with the Riverwalk Trail to create a full range of transportation alternatives in the region. Many sections of the Riverwalk are now complete. The District of Columbia has been working with the NPS to complete sections located on NPS lands. Currently the NPS is working closely with the DC Department of Transportation to complete a missing section of the Riverwalk, which would connect the District of Columbia part of the Riverwalk to the Maryland part. Potential action: Provide technical and financial assistance to complete missing links in the Anacostia Riverwalk. Partners: NPS. Other partners include USDA for access to the National Arboretum, and CSX railroad for trail sections that traverse railway lines. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 23
    • 28. Florida Shingle Creek Trail Trails and River Access Orlando, Florida Project Description and Need: Shingle Creek Trail is a multi-use recreational trail being developed through cooperation between the local governments of Orange County, Osceola County, City of Orlando, and City of Kissimmee. When fully acquired, it will stretch 32 miles through one of Florida’s heavily urbanized metropolitan areas. This trail will become part of an extensive trail network that extends from Kissimmee to Wekiwa Springs State Park and from Orlando to Mascotte. In its entirety, it will serve as a key north-south connector in a larger regional trails network that includes the West Orange Trail, South Lake Trail, Cross Seminole Trail, and Seminole Wekiva Trail. Completing the Shingle Creek Trail will significantly increase outdoor opportunities for bikers and pedestrians in urban central Florida. It will also connect the public to the growing areas of protected land along the Shingle Creek watershed. These parcels connect to form a regional linear open-space park, creating even more opportunities for recreation near the Shingle Creek water body—the northernmost headwaters of the unique Kissimmee- Okeechobee-Everglades ecosystem. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance to complete key sections of the Shingle Creek Trail. Partners: NPS; State of Florida; local governments of Orange County, Osceola County, City of Orlando, and City of Kissimmee; South Florida Water Management District; The Trust for Public Land; Florida Communities Trust; Florida Department of Envi- ronmental Protection Division of Recreation and Parks; Office of Greenways and Trails; and other partners.24 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 29. East Central Regional Rail-Trail ProjectTrailsEast Central FloridaProject Description and Need: The 50-mile East Central Regional Rail-Trail is the mostextensive abandoned rail corridor purchased through Florida’s Greenways and Trails acquisi-tion program. The multi-use trail will link Lake Monroe on the St. Johns River to the City ofTitusville on the Indian River Lagoon, mirroring a historic path of commerce and travel. TheSt. Johns River is an American Heritage River, and the Indian River Lagoon is consideredNorth America’s most biologically diverse estuary.The East Central Regional Rail-Trail is envisioned as part of a larger 260-mile-long trail loopknown as the St. Johns River to the Sea Trail Loop. Trail partners hope to complete the loopby 2013, to tie their celebration to the 500th Anniversary commemoration of the landing ofHernando de Soto in Florida. When complete, the trail will link the metro Orlando area,Kennedy Space Center, Canaveral National Seashore, Merritt Island National WildlifeRefuge, and Daytona’s beaches. It will provide recreational opportunities and better access topublic lands in one of Florida’s most populated and most visited regions.Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance in designing and building theEast Central Regional Rail-Trail. Assist the State of Florida in collaborating with CanaveralNational Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on planning and developingthis project.Partners: FWS, NPS, State of Florida, local governments, and nonprofit organizations. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 25
    • 30. roBErT ClarK26 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 31. Georgia Get Outdoors Georgia Recreation and Education Georgia Project Description and Need: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 72 million American adults are medically obese and 40 percent do not exercise regularly. Georgia created a platform, Get Outdoors Georgia, to achieve a healthier population through outdoor activities. This program targets both youth and adult populations in urban and rural areas. Get Outdoors Georgia could benefit from a partnership with the NPS Healthy Parks Healthy People Initiative. This NPS program works with national, state, and local parks, as well as businesses, healthcare providers, scientists, foundations, and advocacy organizations to foster the health-related role that parks and outdoor spaces play in our society. In the Parks Prescription Program, for example, doctors prescribe activities like a daily walk in a park as a part of their treatment. Bringing NPS expertise to these issues could greatly benefit Georgia’s program. Potential Action: Partner with Georgia to demonstrate and promote health benefits of parks and to enhance recreational access and opportunities for urban youth. Partners: NPS, State of Georgia, health care providers, and foundations. Panola Mountain State Park Greenway, Recreation, and Access Atlanta Area Project Description and Need: Just 20 miles from downtown Atlanta, Panola Mountain State Park is a recreational jewel for metropolitan Atlanta. Panola Mountain’s desig- nation as a National Natural Landmark recognizes its 100-acre granite outcrop that shelters rare plants of the Piedmont region. The park encompasses 1,635 acres of criti- cal recreation and conservation lands and protects four miles of frontage on the South River. Neglected for decades, the South River needs improved water quality and riparian habitat. Because of its proximity to Atlanta, the park is accessible to millions of Geor- gians and visitors. Panola Mountain State Park connects with Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and its sister granite outcrop, Arabia Mountain. The park also connects with eight local schools through a network of multi-use, paved paths weaving through a variety of ecosystems and across the South River. The State of Georgia wants to extend the multi-use trail system as a regional network that would connect with adjoining partner agencies’ and nonprofit partners’ lands. It also wants to develop overnight camping areas and recreation access points along the South River. Potential Action: Provide planning and technical assistance through the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance and National Heritage Areas programs. Partner: NPS, State of Georgia, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and DeKalb, Henry, and Rockdale counties. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 27
    • 32. Hawaii North Kona-South Kohala Coastline / Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail Greenway and Water Trail Island of Hawaii Project Description and Need: Thirty-one miles of coastline on the Island of Hawaii make up the North Kona-South Kohala Coastline String of Parks, beginning at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and ending at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. Hawaii wants to connect these seven national, state, and county parks via aquatic and terrestrial trails interspersed with multi-use recreation facilities. The NPS Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail already provides land links through parks in coastal areas, and it could be linked by sea as well, via recreational boating opportunities. In addition to providing recreation access, the North Kona-South Kohala Coastline has a rich cultural history, including ancient artifacts at sacred sites, and great potential for environmental education and interpretation. The NPS is working with a dozen local communities in the trail corridor to develop community-based trail management plans. The plans include an economic development component focused on creating jobs in the recreation and visitor services fields. This project meets AGO outdoor recreation goals and is supported by state and community entities. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance to the Island of Hawaii to enhance the Ala Kahakai Trail and provide new access along the Kona Coast. Work with the state and local communities in greenway, water trail, and interpretive planning for 31 miles of the Kona Coast. Partners: NPS, State of Hawaii, Island of Hawaii, local communities, and nonprofit organizations.28 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 33. Wailua River National Blueway National Blueway Restoration and Access Island of Kaua’i Project Description and Need: The slowly meandering Wailua River on the Island of Kauai is a heavily used recreational destination. Its culturally and historically significant features include the sacred Fern Grotto site, several Hawaiian Heiau, and ancient petro- glyphs at the mouth of the river. Commercial tours and paddleboat entrepreneurs crowd the banks. Managing the Wailua River’s limited area presents the challenge of balancing its heavy recreational use with public safety and impacts on natural and cultural resources. The demand for public recreation access has increased, but an aging marina infrastructure must be addressed. The state needs help with increasing the access to the river, enhancing existing facilities, and assisting in the conservation of the natural and cultural resources. The long-term goal is to manage river use sustainably to protect river values while increasing recreation use along the blueway. Potential Action: Designate the Wailua River as a National Blueway. Provide technical, financial, and planning assistance to Hawaii both for increasing public access and for restoring the Wailua River. Partners: FWS, NPS, State of Hawaii, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses.roBErT ClarK America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 29
    • 34. Idaho Boise River Greenbelt Urban Park Boise, Idaho Project Description and Need: The Boise River Greenbelt offers over 22 miles of pathways on both sides of the river. A signature attraction of the city of Boise, it connects parks, historic features, residential areas, and the downtown area. This project will extend the greenbelt to 63 miles long, from Lucky Peak Dam to the confluence of the Snake and Boise rivers, creating a recreational expressway to Eagle Island State Park. Connecting pathways will provide recreation access and bicycle commuting to and from 10 cites in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. The project also will clear barriers and provide portages for boat- ing and increase access for fishing and wildlife viewing. Some 1.5 miles of the Boise Greenbelt Trail have been built on Bureau of Reclamation lands in southeast Boise. BOR is part of the Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative. This coalition of federal, state, local, and private partners supports recreation and tourism, including the Boise River Trails and Parks Project. This project has substantial support in the area. Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance for the extension of the Boise River Greenbelt. Extend an agreement allowing the existing Greenbelt Trail to remain on Bureau of Reclamation lands. Partners: BOR, NPS, FWS, BLM, State of Idaho, City of Boise, local governments, and nonprofit organizations.30 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 35. Owyhee Land ExchangeLandscape ConservationSouthwestern IdahoProject Description and Need: The Owyhee Wilderness is a BLM-managed wildernessarea in southwest Idaho along the Owyhee River. This landscape is defined by rivers cut-ting steep canyons out of high desert and sagebrush plateaus. Only rough roads provideaccess to empty, open land.BLM and the State of Idaho have been working on a potential land exchange under theOmnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The exchange would swap state-owned trust lands within the Owyhee Wilderness for BLM lands outside the area. Thiswill result in more contiguous wilderness and provide the potential for more revenue forthe new state trust lands. There are 32,538 acres of federal land and 38,440 acres of stateof Idaho land included in this exchange, but it will not be executed until both BLM andthe State of Idaho have completed several tasks.Potential Action: Provide matching funds for cultural resource surveys, boundary sur-veys, market appraisal, and other work required to complete the land exchange.Partners: BLM, State of Idaho, and nonprofit organizations. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 31
    • 36. Illinois Calumet Millennium Reserve River Restoration and Recreation Chicago, Illinois Region Project Description and Need: The Calumet Millennium Reserve project will promote redevelopment of an underused industrial zone while rehabilitating wetlands habitat on Chicago’s South Side. The project will restore drained wetland basins, historic prairie and forest habitats, and create a link to existing conservation lands. By acquiring and restoring brownfields, wetlands, streams, and coastline on the Calumet River, Lake Calumet, and Wolf Lake and in the Indiana Dunes region, this project will provide high-quality wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities in an urban setting. Chicago’s Calumet Millennium Reserve Plan has slated over 4,000 acres to become part of the Calumet Millennium Reserve. The plan calls for extensive multi-use trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities in the metropolitan area. The City of Chicago continues to acquire environmentally important tracts of private land in the target area to become a state forest preserve or Chicago Park District natural area. Potential Action: Coordinate with state and local entities to integrate the conservation, recreation, and restoration activities at Lake Calumet with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan National Recreation Trail. Provide financial and techni- cal support to acquire lands in the Calumet Millennium Reserve target area. Provide technical assistance to public agencies and nonprofit organizations to advance the project. Partners: NPS, USGS, State of Illinois, City of Chicago, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources.32 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 37. Hackmatack National Wildlife RefugeLandscape ConservationNortheast IllinoisProject Description and Need: In 2010, the Governors, Senators, and Representatives ofWisconsin and Illinois requested a feasibility study for a potential new National WildlifeRefuge. The proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, on the western edge of theChicago/Milwaukee metropolitan region, is now approaching final stages of planningwithin the FWS. Hackmatack’s planned area encompasses over 60 public and privateparks, preserves, and conservation areas whose natural ecosystems total about 23,000acres and provide habitat for 109 species of concern, including 49 birds and 47 plants.The refuge would be the nucleus of disparate fragments of conserved land in a 350,000-acre study area, giving a cohesive picture of landscape-scale conservation. The refugewould also provide outdoor education opportunities to the estimated 3.5 million peoplewithin 30 miles of the project area. This includes hundreds of thousands of children andtheir families who otherwise lack ready access, with the next nearest Refuge 150 milesaway. The state of Illinois has formally supported the plan. McHenry County, Illinois hasexpressed support for establishing the refuge and has open space conservation revenuesthat may be available to leverage protection of lands near the proposed refuge.Potential Action: Establish Hackmatack as a National Wildlife Refuge. Work with stateand local governments, private organizations, and landowners to expand the impact ofthe refuge through cooperative management of private and public lands. Continue coor-dination with the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to ensure thatpotential refuge conservation projects complement planning activities for parks and openspace in southeast Wisconsin.Partners: FWS, NPS, States of Illinois and Wisconsin, local governments, nonprofitorganizations, and private landowners. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 33
    • 38. Indiana Wabash River—Healthy Rivers Initiative River Restoration Central Indiana Project Description and Need: The Wabash River is the largest undammed river east of the Mississippi. It forms the border between Illinois and Indiana for nearly 200 miles and has greatly diverse plant and animal life. The many creeks, streams, and rivers that feed the Wabash River have been ditched and tiled, significantly altering the natural flow of water. This contributes to more frequent and intense flooding from rainstorms. The June 2008 floods affected 1.4 million acres of Hoosier farmland, causing $200 mil- lion in damages. Indiana is the second largest state source of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in the Mississippi River system, which in turn contributes to the large dead zone (hypoxia) in the Gulf of Mexico. Six major stresses degrade the river: changes in natural water flow; high nutrient, herbicide, and insecticide levels; localized problems with pollution from cities; alteration of land adjoining the river; elimination of tree cover along the river; and invasive species. Strategic and science-based conservation and restoration action is needed, given the watershed’s large size and the great complexity of the land it drains—from farmland and homes to cities and industrial sites. Potential Action: Provide financial assistance to acquire strategic land parcels to provide flood relief to riparian land owners, protect critical threatened species and habitat, and provide a natural buffer and filter between agricultural fertilizers and the river. Work with public agencies and private landowners to expand investment that reduces runoff and creates wildlife habitat. Partners: FWS, USGS, State of Indiana, The Nature Conservancy, and other stakeholders.34 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 39. Indiana DunesWater Trail AccessNorthwest IndianaProject Description and Need: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, in northwestIndiana, is managed by the NPS. It runs for nearly 25 miles along the southern shore ofLake Michigan, from Gary, Indiana to Michigan City, Indiana. The recently dedicatedLake Michigan Water Trail spans some 75 miles along the southern Lake Michiganshoreline from Chicago to New Buffalo, Michigan. The Water Trail increases publicaccess to Lake Michigan shoreline and offers water-based recreation to more than ninemillion people. It provides otherwise inaccessible shoreline views, as well as exposureto unique ecological areas with rich, regionally characteristic biodiversity. Programs atIndiana Dunes National Lakeshore introduce underserved populations of urban resi-dents and youth to these special areas. For example, special-education and interpretiveyouth programs get young people out onto Lake Michigan in kayaks and canoes. Thechallenge now is to increase access to the Lakeshore’s various public environmentaleducation programs and facilities. One of the best ways to do this would be to extend thetrail from Indiana Dunes to the Illinois border. This would not only create an additionalamenity for Indiana citizens, but open up the opportunity to access a trail connection allthe way to Chicago. Linking the Indiana Dunes more broadly to regional trails couldalso bring added economic benefits to the state of Indiana through increased recreationvisits.Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance to increase local access to theNational Lakeshore and to complete the trail from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshoreto the Illinois border.Partners: NPS, State of Indiana, Save the Dunes, foundations, NW Indiana RegionalPlanning Commission, Lake Michigan Water Trail Association, Northwest IndianaPaddlers Association, and communities along the Lake Michigan shoreline. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 35
    • 40. Iowa Loess Hills Rural Landscape Conservation and Recreation Western Iowa Project Description and Need: This 650,000-acre region is considered the best example of “loess” topography in the world, a rare geologic formation that provides habitat to 49 species of rare plants and animals. Hawks and other raptors are a common sight in this major migration corridor, and the area is also home to rare native prairie grasses that are quickly disappearing. The region also contains numerous cultural and historic landmarks. The Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, which runs through prairie, wood- land, and farmland at the heart of the region, is one of the nation’s “10 most outstanding byways,” a reflection of the landscape’s natural beauty and scenic value. Thirty thousand acres of the Loess Hills are currently protected, mostly through conservation easements and inclusion in the Loess Hill State Forest. This area provides opportunities for youth engagement and recreation in seven counties. Furthermore, the Loess Hills area is within reach of Council Bluffs and Sioux City, the two urban areas in western Iowa and eastern South Dakota. A strong foundation for advancing this project has been laid with conservation organizations like the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to work with willing sellers of working lands to conserve the few remaining relatively undisturbed areas. Potential Action: Provide financial support for strategic land protection, including ac- quisition of conservation easements on working lands. Explore the potential designation of the area as a national preserve. Provide technical and financial assistance to commu- nities to better conserve and manage the natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Loess Hills. Partners: NPS, State of Iowa, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and other nonprofit organizations.36 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 41. Southern Prairie Pothole National Wildlife RefugeWildlife Habitat ConservationNorth Central IowaProject Description and Need: Glacially formed prairie potholes and their surroundingwetlands in north-central Iowa provide critical habitat for over 90 species of birds. Theyproduce at least 50 percent of the North American continental duck population eachyear. This wetland landscape is also an important resource for flood control, water quality,and aquifer recharging. Iowa’s Prairie Pothole region offers many outdoor recreationopportunities along the American Discovery Trail. To protect this unique landscape,the State of Iowa, local leaders, and nonprofit organizations seek to expand the existingDunbar Slough/Willow Creek wetland complex by 5,000 acres and to establish the areaas a National Wildlife Refuge. These partners also aim to develop a veteran-led youthconservation education pilot program.In addition, this project would complement the Northern Plains Migratory Bird HabitatInitiative—a new NRCS initiative designed to enhance migratory bird habitat andimprove the water quality and the health of grasslands in the Prairie Pothole Region ofthe Northern Plains. The Northern Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative providestechnical and financial assistance for restoring wetlands drained for agricultural uses,managing farmed wetlands in ways that reduce impacts on wildlife and water quality,and keeping unaltered wetlands in their current condition.Potential Action: Provide technical and financial assistance in expanding the DunbarSlough/Willow Creek Wetland Complex and designate the Southern Prairie PotholeNational Wildlife Refuge.Partners: FWS, NRCS, State of Iowa, national and local nonprofit organizations, andlocal government leaders. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 37
    • 42. Kansas Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area Rural Working Land Conservation Eastern Kansas Project Description and Need: Only three percent of the native-prairie grasslands that once stretched from Canada to Texas remain today. Establishing a new easement- based conservation area by working with key ranching community partners will protect up to 1.1 million acres of North America’s last landscape-scale tallgrass prairie. The Flint Hills area is also an important part of the conservation and recreation agenda of the State of Kansas. Rolling prairies provide ample hiking, biking, river, and equestrian trails. The state has partnered with a variety of government and private organizations to secure over 70,000 acres of voluntary conservation easements in addition to 11,000 square miles that wind energy developers have agreed to conserve. The Flint Hills plan calls for construction of the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, an education- focused visitor center for the NPS Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The plan also calls for campsite and cabin improvements along the Flint Hills’ trails, as well as devel- opment of a wetland-management plan to preserve crucial habitats. Kansas recognizes the importance of youth engagement and aims to create educational and interpretive opportunities throughout these facilities. Potential Action: Establish a new easement-based conservation area; provide technical and financial assistance to the State of Kansas toward construction of the Flint Hills Discovery Center, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Visitor Center, and campsite improvements. Partners: FWS, NPS, USGS, State of Kansas, and agricultural, recreation, and conservation organizations.38 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 43. Kansas River Water TrailWater TrailTopeka, KansasProject Description and Need: The Kansas River, one of only three publicly navigablewaterways in Kansas, flows for 170 miles through both urban areas and rural landscapes.The history of the Kansas River—sometimes locally known as the “Kaw”—includessignificant events in the development and settling of the nation. Lewis and Clark’s Corpsof Discovery camped at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers in 1804 andnoted that the river was “navigable for 80 leagues.” The river valley provided a route foroverland migration to California and Oregon. The United States military used the riverroute to establish Fort Riley and as a supply route between other frontier posts, like FortLeavenworth. Significant riverside historic sites open for visitors include Fort Riley, TheFirst Territorial Capital, Historic Lecompton, Topeka, Kaw Point Park in Kansas City,and the Kansas History Center. The Kansas River historically linked these sites.The Kansas River is a unique natural resource for Kansas and provides an attractiveregional recreational opportunity. Over two million people live in the various citiesand towns along the river, from the Kansas City metro area west to Junction City. Thedesignation and development of a “Kansas River Water Trail” is a high priority for theDepartment of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and would be the state’s first public watertrail. Historically, the lack of river access sites has limited paddle sports in Kansas andforced people to travel to other states for these pursuits. Currently there are 17 developedpublic access points on the river and another under construction. Last year, Kaw RiverState Park opened to the public in Topeka. Even with these developments, there are gapsin desired access points, including one 37-mile segment, which is significantly more thanthe 10 to 15 miles required for day trips.Potential Action: Designate the Kansas River Water Trail and provide financial andtechnical assistance to increase access to the river.Partners: NPS, City of Topeka, State of Kansas, local governments, and nonprofitorganizations. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 39
    • 44. Kentucky Kentucky River Water Trail Water Trail Extension Lexington, Kentucky Project Description and Need: The Bluewater Trails Program of Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has designated 10 state water trails throughout the Commonwealth, including the Kentucky River Water Trail southeast of Lexington. A 19-mile section of the river was designated a State Water Trail and a National Recreation Trail on National Trails Day in 2011. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Riverkeepers, and the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program are partnering to extend the water trail upstream with an eventual goal of a water trail along all 400 miles of the river. The water trail currently includes Pool 9 and will eventually reach Pool 14 in Lee County. The Commonwealth of Kentucky highlights this water trail as one of Kentucky’s wild adventure tourism attractions. Potential Action: Provide planning and technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Kentucky through RTCA to extend the Kentucky River Water Trail from Pool 10 to Pool 14. Designate this section as a National Water Trail. Provide financial support for the construction of boating infrastructure at access sites along the trail. Partners: NPS, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and Kentucky Riverkeepers.40 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 45. Dawkins Line Rail-TrailTrailsEastern KentuckyProject Description and Need: The proposed 36-mile-long Dawkins Line has thepotential to be become the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s longest rail-trail, doublingthe miles of rail-trail in the Commonwealth. This unused rail corridor stretches fromWest Van Lear in Johnson County, through Magoffin County, to Evanston in BreathittCounty. It was named after the former Dawkins Lumber Company. This scenic, heavilywooded corridor features 35 trestle bridges and a pair of tunnels—the 662-foot-longGun Creek Tunnel and the 1,555-foot-long Carver Tunnel.The Commonwealth purchased the corridor from the R.J. Corman Railroad Groupin spring 2011. Kentucky State Parks will manage the rail-trail and has some funds todevelop the trail. Additional funds are needed to complete planning for the extension ofthe trail.When completed, this rail-trail will bring tourism to Eastern Kentucky and provideinvaluable recreational opportunities for residents in an area with a high rate of obesity,diabetes, and heart and vascular disease.Potential Action: Provide planning and technical assistance through RTCA for the nextphase of the Dawkins Line Rail-Trail.Partners: NPS, Commonwealth of Kentucky, local governments, and nonprofitorganizations. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 41
    • 46. Louisiana Urban Waters Initiative Urban Recreation Access New Orleans, Louisiana Project Description and Need: As one of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership’s seven pilot locations, the City of New Orleans is collaborating with state agencies, local NGOs, and the federal government to revitalize and increase access to rivers, lakes, and streams in an area that has been damaged by recent natural disasters. Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary that connects to the Gulf of Mexico, continues to recover from lingering impacts of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Not- withstanding these challenges, it has also become an important center for recreation and education opportunities. It covers over 630 square miles, serving six Louisiana parishes and 1.5 million people. Urban residents rely on lakeshore access for important recreational opportunities. To that end, the Partnership is working on initiating the Lafitte Corridor Greenway, a multi-use recreational path that will link a network of parks, playgrounds, and com- munity centers to the lake and to each other. Other Partnership projects include developing environmental and historical education programs on the area’s ecology and maritime industry, improving water quality, rebuilding recreational facilities, and engaging local youth to design signage for completed projects. One specific project is the construction of a fishing pier in Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge. The pier will increase recreational opportunities and access for refuge visitors. These efforts are community-generated and community-led, but they are supported by a wide variety of federal agencies and other partners. Potential Action: Continue to provide technical and financial support for the Lafitte Corridor Greenway, construction of a fishing pier in Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge, and other projects through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Partners: FWS, EPA, NPS, NOAA, USGS, USACE, City of New Orleans, and other conservation partners.42 America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report
    • 47. Restoration of Lake Pontchartrain BasinHabitat RestorationNew Orleans, Louisiana RegionProject Description and Need: Over the past decade, the U.S. Fish and WildlifeService has provided recommendations and technical assistance regarding waterquality and wetland restoration programs and projects in the Lake PontchartrainBasin. Using funds from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and RestorationAct, the FWS has also restored wetlands on Goose Point Marsh and on Big BranchNational Wildlife Refuge. The next significant project in the Basin would createmarshland in the Bayou Bonfouca, in St. Tammany Parish. Hydraulically dredgedmaterial from Lake Pontchartrain would be used to create and nourish 575 acres ofmarsh, providing valuable habitat. Crews will construct tidal creeks to provide tidalconnectivity and access for marine organisms.This project will create approximately 424 net acres over the 20-year project life. It iscurrently in the engineering and design phase and will require additional financial andtechnical assistance to be completed.Potential Action: Provide technical and financial support for Bayou Bonfouca MarshCreation.Partners: FWS and State of Louisiana. America’s Great Outdoors Fifty-State Report 43
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