RELEASE: OAK Members Support Efforts to Connect Youth to Urban Waters


December 3, 2014

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584,

OAK Members Support Efforts to Connect Youth to Urban Waters

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, twenty-eight nongovernmental organizations, including eight members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, signed on to support the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a fourteen agency collaboration to reconnect urban communities with their waterways.

“We’re proud to be a part of this community-driven partnership to restore and protect urban waterways. Together we will help open the door for more families to explore and enjoy the outdoors,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director.

“Expanding access to fishing, boating, and other outdoor recreation is a great way to reconnect kids and families to waters in their communities. Working together, we can help people become more active outside and foster a new generation of advocates for clean water and healthy communities,” said Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director of the Izaak Walton League of America.

“The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) applauds the Federal Urban Waters Partnership which works to revitalize our nation’s waterways while providing valuable economic, environmental, and social benefits to communities,” said Barbara Tulipane, National Recreation and Park Association President and CEO. “Our members, in communities across the country, work to reclaim and revitalize waterfronts for recreation and conservation purposes. We look forward to working with the partnership to continue to bring together the federal family in support of these innovative local partnerships that create and add value in, and around, our nations bodies of water.”

“Clean water is essential for the health of our communities and our fish and wildlife. By restoring and improving access to urban waters, we can make it possible for all Americans to connect with nature and appreciate wildlife,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation.

“Today, 80% of Americans live in urban areas, so it is a great idea to focus on how rivers and streams flowing through cities can be improved and used by the millions of people who live near them. As an organization whose mission is to protect land for people and provide parks, we support the effort in this long-neglected area and are pleased to be working with federal, state, local and private partners in cities that are part of the Urban Waters Partnership,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land.

“Most cities in America were built on the banks of a river, and urban waterways often provide the first connection today’s families have to the outdoor world,” said Greg Lais, Wilderness Inquiry Executive Director. “This is why we wholeheartedly support the efforts of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. Stewardship begins at home.”

“The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is excited to be a partner in this initiative to invest in our nation’s urban waterways. ASLA applauds the Partnership’s efforts to restore and preserve our natural environments while reconnecting these resources to underserved communities,” said Nancy C. Somerville, Hon. ALSA, Executive Vice President and CEO.

“Young people growing up in urban areas will become the principal stewards of the environment,” said Scott Steen, President and CEO of American Forests. “If we can effectively engage them in efforts like this partnership, these kids are more likely to grow up enjoying the outdoors and more likely to care about and protect the natural world.”

The NGO partners signed the following statement of support:

“We commend the work that is making a visible difference in communities across the country by engaging urban populations in restoring their rivers and surrounding neighborhoods, improving access for water recreation, and helping create a network of parks and greenspaces connecting downtown cores with suburban and rural areas. We believe the Partnership provides a powerful means for federal agencies to better connect with our metropolitan areas and engage all residents – especially youth – in conservation and stewardship of nature where they live, work, and play.

Supporting actions we plan to undertake include aligning resources, funding, and expertise to restore urban waters, parks, and greenspaces; increase outdoor recreation; engage youth and residents at pilot sites; and create new initiatives or projects nationally or at the state or local levels that achieve complementary results. We look forward to assisting federal agency partners with outreach and communications encouraging urban waters restoration, parks and greenspace conservation, and outdoor recreation.”

Urban Waters Federal Partnership team at OAK youth event in June.
Urban Waters Federal Partnership team at OAK youth event in June.


 About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than seventy businesses and organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information:

Published by Jackie Ostfeld, OAK Chair

My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Director of Sierra Club's Outdoors for All campaign. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. Views are my own.

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