Perhaps sensing America’s need for an inspiring national pick-me-up – maybe a nice long hike on a beautiful trail in a national park, or a whitewater rafting trip on a scenic river — President Obama unrolled his Great Outdoors Initiative last week. The initiative will build on existing, successful conservation efforts through out the country by local and state governments, tribes, and private groups, like the American River Conservancy and the Mother Lode River Center. Recognizing that Americans, and children especially, are “losing our connection to the parks, wild places, and open spaces we grew up with and cherish,” a main focus of the initiative is to help families and young people get outside more. President Obama launched the Administration’s effort to promote national land conservation with a tribute to the importance of land to America’s soul. In our land, the President said, we have reason to rejoice, to “understand what an incredible bounty we have been given.” Protecting and appreciating American land protects our essential values. During the Civil War, for instance, Abraham Lincoln set aside the land that is now Yosemite. During the Great Depression, FDR formed the CCC and built many of our nations hiking trails, parks and campgrounds. We at the Mother Lode River Center applaud President Obama’s mission to protect and increase access to America’s rivers, forests, wilderness areas, parks and many natural wonders. We agree that reconnecting to, and protecting America’s wild places is vitally important to creating jobs, saving our environment, and helping our children lead healthier, happier lives. If we protect them, wild places are antidotes to human troubles. They restore our spirits and give us the fresh air and perspective we need to thrive.