President Obama stated in a Presidential Memorandum last month:
the Federal government...has a responsibility to... [r]econnect Americans, especially children, to America's rivers and waterways, landscapes of national significance, ranches, farms and forests, great parks,
and coasts and beaches.
The above quote has two ellipses, but, difficult as it may be to believe, I did not distort his words. He truly believes that the Federal Government needs to solve this problem, which he defines further in the Memorandum:
Children, especially, are spending less time outside running and playing, fishing and hunting, and connecting to the outdoors just down the street or outside of town.
Children aren't hunting enough? It must have hurt to pander to those bitter clingers.
Obama's response to this crisis is to create another of the government programs that seem to be spun out of the White House at a rate of two or three a week. This one is called "America's Great Outdoors Initiative." It calls on no less than three Cabinet Secretaries (Interior, Agriculture and EPA), plus the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to develop "A 21st Century Strategy for America's Great Outdoors."
To excerpt the important points of the Memorandum (direct quotes):
1. Americans are blessed with a vast and varied natural heritage. From mountains to deserts and from sea to shining sea, America's great outdoors...[blah, blah, blah].
2. Today, however, we are losing touch with too many of the places. Families are spending less time together enjoying their natural surroundings.
3. Across America, communities are uniting to protect the places they love. However, these efforts are often scattered and sometimes insufficient....The Federal Government, the Nation's largest land manager, has a responsibility to engage with these partners to help develop a conservation agenda worthy of the 21st Century. We must look to the private sector and nonprofit organizations, as well as towns, cities, and States, and the people who live and work in them, to identify the places that mean the most to Americans, and leverage the support of the Federal Government to help these community-driven efforts to succeed. Through these partnerships, we will work to connect these outdoor spaces to each other, and to reconnect Americans to them.
These "public/private partnerships," and "leveraging" mean one thing: the Federal Government is expanding into yet another part of our lives. It's going to cost us some money, but connecting outdoor spaces and reconnecting Americans to them is vital work that can only be done by the Federal Government. As Obama reminded us at his recent speech to the Business Council, "no business, no individual is going to provide [public goods] on their own."