Earth Day is April 22nd. We’ve been fortunate since 1990 to have millions of people celebrating Earth Day and bringing attention to the need for conservation practices. This year, Earth Day is embracing the theme of Green Cities. There are massive environmental implications if we don’t move quickly to green our cities. By 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Cities are our best hope to tackle some of the world’s most serious problems.
Cities are positioned to lead. Never before has so much been riding on the success of cities. People are now heading to cities for diversity, amenities, social connections, business opportunities, cultural attractions and convenience. Cities are also naturally greener. Most notably because urban inhabitants have a lower carbon footprint. Cities like New York, Mexico City, Tokyo and Madrid have millions of inhabitants who use public transportation every day – or better yet, they walk or ride a bike.
Cities have an opportunity to continue the trend to move away from a highway orientation of the 1950′s to an outdoor-centric orientation to support human powered recreation. Cities of the 21st Century must move to connect their citizens with the green spaces – parks, hiking trails, bike paths, and river ways. Smart cities like Bogota and Buenos Aires have done assessments on what they’re offering in terms of green infrastructure and what gaps need to be filled to complete their “green city” system.
Conservation practices are key to living in better symbiosis with the planet. Reducing our extreme use of the natural environment by recycling, capturing ground water run off, increasing the energy efficiency of our buildings, teaching conservation stewardship, embracing green design, adopting new energy technologies and creating vibrant connections to outdoor recreation are all part of a winning formula for green cities.
This was a great Winter for snow. The cold temps and the frequent snow falls made for the perfect conditions to get active outdoors. From cross country skiing, snow shoeing, winter hiking, ice skating, sledding, down hill skiing and more – there were a lot of activities to choose from.
Speaking with AMC members and friends – from all over the Northeast – it was evident that they took full advantage of this Winter. We’re fortunate to have a variety of options for close to home Winter recreation. From day trips in Central Park and the Arnold Arboretum to snow shoeing in New Hampshire and cross country skiing in Maine woods – there’s something for everyone and at every skill level.
Staying warm is a must on any Winter trip. Cross country skiing adventures necessitate multiple layers that can be removed with increased activity. Wicking shirts, fleece, and wind protection are all part of the uniform. Eye protection, sun screen and a hat are essential. A first aid kit, map and compass are also part of the Ten Essentials.
It’s also very important to drink enough water and develop a good hydration habit while exercising. While 4 to 6 quarts a day might be the norm, you need to be even more mindful of water in take while on the trail. Cross country skiing can be a particularly great workout, so keeping up on the water intake is critical.
With only a few short weeks of Winter left, it’s an opportune time to make a plan and get outdoors. One option to getting outdoors is offered on our site, under Chapter activities. Please check our site at outdoors.org and participate on an upcoming chapter trip.
During the days leading up to Thanksgiving we frequently hear from many people that it’s their favorite holiday. The day is jam packed with family, fun, food and most of all – gratitude. As we think about Thanksgiving in the United States, I think its important for us to be thankful for the national treasures we have in our parks and wild places.
We have a bounty of beautiful protected landscapes in our nation. From the 278,000,000 acres of National Parks to the 192,000,000 acres managed by the US Forest Service, from the 40,000,000 acres in private conservation easements to the millions of acres of local parks in cities and towns – we are blessed by these stunning spaces.
Thanks to the hard work of generations of conservation leaders and advocates, the United States is in an enviable position of leadership. We have a rich US legacy of protecting the outdoors and being active in the outdoors. That leadership however can’t stop with generations past – our parks and protected lands must be part of a renewed Outdoor Citizenship for our nation.
Our nation and the world depends on all of us to step up and play an active role. Getting the next generation active in the outdoors will better prepare them to confront the challenges of our time – challenges like climate change, resiliency, obesity and inactivity. Knowledgeable outdoor citizenry means better informed voters too; and people who more wisely use our trails, parks and ponds.
No matter where we are in the country, Thanksgiving is a great time to recommit and reconnect to the outdoors and to conservation stewardship. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you for all you do to advance the outdoors.
We are indeed fortunate to have a dedicated group of partners at AMC. From the YMCA’s and Boys and Girls Clubs, to our conservation partners throughout the our service area – from Maine to DC. We’re lucky to have these collaborations to help get more people active in the outdoors while advancing conservation stewardship.
One of our longest and most revered partnerships is with the White Mountain National Forest. Forest Superintendent Tom Wagner and his team do an outstanding job managing one of our nation’s most beautiful forests.
We celebrated the Centennial of the Weeks Act in 2011 – marking the 100th Anniversary of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). AMC and other partners worked together to ensure this landscape be preserved for generations to enjoy. Today, hundreds of thousands of people pass through Pinkham Notch or use AMC maintained trails. Whether you take the 19 Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch Hut, scale the rocky trails to Mount Adams, ski Wildcat or Cannon, or hike the Crawford Path…there’s something for everyone in the White Mountain National Forest.
The WMNF is also a key driver supporting our NH North Country economy. As one of the largest employers in the North Country, AMC knows the positive impact the WMNF and eco tourism has on the local economy and on NH overall economy. Jobs in lodging, environmental education, recreation, sustainable forestry and trail maintenance – are just a few of the thousands of jobs that are supported and benefited by the WMNF.
AMC is working with partners like the Society for the Protection of NH Forests and others to protect the White Mountain National Forest. We want to ensure that these beautiful 750,852 acres are enjoyed by generations to come.
We are fortunate in the Northeast to have a wide variety of outdoor recreational options. From our treasured mountains to our beautiful coastline, there are thousands of outdoor adventures that are just a few hours away. Getting out close to home is a fun way to explore the outdoors when you don’t have the time for longer travel or an overnight stay.
AMC’s latest Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia offers a hundred options nearby. From the lush landscapes and vibrant gardens of the Awbury Aboretum and the Morris Aboretum, to the miles of trails at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge or FDR Park – there is a lot to do on a day trip around Philly.
One of my favorite Philly spots is the Schuylkill Banks and East Fairmount Park. This is a beautiful area for walking and biking. The Water Works sits atop the Schuylkill like an Athenian campus. Further down the river you’ll see a series of collegiate boat houses – home to many of the local rowing teams. And, from an environmental education perspective, Fairmount Park center offers an interpretive exhibit on watersheds.
What’s nice about the 100 trips in the Philadephia, Boston and New York City books, is that many of these close to home trips are accessible by public transportation. In Boston you can get to fun places like the Arnold Arboretum (Jamaica Plain) on the Orange line or Castle Island (South Boston) on the Red line. Buses bring you from these train stops to the front entrances.
Please consider taking some day trips this summer to get outdoors. Our region has so much to offer – many hidden gems – that will add to the enjoyment and fun of your family’s summer adventure.
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Southern terminus of the Bay Circuit Trail in Duxbury, MA. Initially conceived in 1929, the Bay Circuit Trail (BCT) is now being completed through a partnership of AMC and the Trustees of the Reservations. This 220 mile trail stretches through 57 communities and is within a short drive for 4.8 million people in the Metropolitan Boston area.