Hillary Clinton’s Plan for Conservation and Collaborative Stewardship of America’s Great Outdoors

Hillary Clinton believes that America’s national parks, forests, oceans, wildlife, monuments, and public lands are a proud inheritance that we have a responsibility to protect for our children and grandchildren. For it is these American places – from the Everglades in Florida to the Cesar Chavez National Monument in California – that bind us together as a people and, more than ever, sustain our economy and way of life. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not what we have that will make us a great nation. It is the way in which we use it.”

Today, our lands, waters, and wildlife are facing challenges that can only be solved through collaboration by leaders at all levels, from farmers and fishermen to city councils and tribal governments. As a nation, we need policies and investments that incentivize this collaborative approach to stewardship. We should be helping ranchers who safeguard at-risk plants and animals, mayors who want to create more parks for kids, and industries that are working to cut wasteful water use.

Hillary Clinton’s vision for collaborative stewardship will strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy.

Clinton will:

  • Set a goal of doubling the size of the outdoor economy within 10 years, creating millions of new jobs and up to $700 billion dollars in new annual economic activity;
  • Celebrate the 100thanniversary of our country’s national park system – America’s “best idea” – by establishing an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance our country’s great outdoors;
  • Launch an initiative to restore and revitalize more than 3000 city parks within ten years;
  • Make public lands an engine of our clean energy economy through a ten-fold increase in renewable energy production on public lands and waters within ten years;
  • Expand access to public lands for hunting, fishing and recreation by making publicly accessible 50% of the public land that is currently inaccessible;
  • Combat our national water challenges, including through a new Water Innovation Lab and a Western Water Partnership.


America’s system of national parks and public lands is the envy of the world. Our national parks, national forests, national seashores, wildlife refuges and other public lands host more than 407 million visits every year. But America’s parks – national, state, and local – are falling into disrepair and facing new pressures. Though they are more popular than ever, our national parks have an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog of aging roads, visitor centers, and infrastructure that need to be modernized, and the park system itself does not sufficiently include cultural and historic sites that reflect the diversity of our country. And too often, access to other public lands is restricted or at risk. Because national, state, and private lands are often intermixed, many hunters and anglers are finding locked gates and fences blocking access to publicly-owned streams and wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, special interest groups are angling for the privatization of America’s public lands, which would further reduce public access. To meet these challenges, Clinton will:

  • Establish the American Parks Trust Fund: Clinton will work with Congress to establish a new trust with the mission of helping to expand local, state, and national recreation opportunities, rehabilitate existing parks, and enhancing America’s great outdoors – from our forests and coasts to neighborhood parks. This trust fund will replace, expand the scope of, and provide funding at roughly double the authorized level of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to address infrastructure needs, reduce the maintenance backlog in national parks, forests, and public lands and more. It will accelerate private, state, tribal, and national efforts to protect at-risk wildlife habitat before it disappears. And it will provide more grants to local and state governments to create and improve open spaces and urban parks, including a new initiative to rehabilitate under-resourced urban parks. For the first time, it will also make Tribal Nations directly eligible for funding to restore their homelands.
  • Tell the story of all Americans in our parks: America’s national parks, memorials, and monuments should reflect the contributions of all Americans to our shared history and culture, yet communities of color, women, and LGBT Americans are currently underrepresented in the system. Clinton will work to protect historic sites and cherished lands that should be added to our system of parks and public lands and waters to better reflect the diversity of our peoples and cultures. Clinton will also work to increase the diversity of the workforces within the National Park Service and other land management agencies.
  • Expand public access to public lands: Because some public lands are surrounded by private lands, an estimated 4 million acres of national forests and other public lands in the West are currently inaccessible to the public. To confront this problem, Clinton will set a goal of unlocking access to at least 2 million acres of currently inaccessible public lands by the end of her first term – halving the amount of public land that is currently off-limits – by pursuing voluntary conservation partnerships with private landowners and state governments to establish new access points, trails, and easements to open public access to public lands. 
  • Fight efforts to turn public lands private: In recent years, special interest groups have been supporting efforts to dispose of or sell off America’s public lands, which would privatize national forests, national monuments, and even national parks. Clinton strongly opposes these proposals to sell off America’s natural heritage. She will fight to protect the rights of our children and grandchildren to explore the lands and waters that define us as a nation.
  • Ensure that we protect those areas where development is simply not worth the risk. As in the Arctic Ocean, where oil and gas development is simply too risky to be pursued, there are some places that are better left untouched. Through smarter planning, public input, and careful decisions, the federal government should be directing developers – whether for renewable energy projects or mineral extraction – to areas with the fewest potential environmental costs, while clearly identifying those special places that should be safeguarded for future generations.
  • Revitalize more than 3,000 city parks within 10 years. As President, Hillary Clinton will launch an initiative to restore and revitalize more than 3,000 city parks within ten years, including by providing new national service opportunities for youth, veterans, and others.  She will do this by restoring, updating, and investing $40 million annually in the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Program and $10 million annually in AmeriCorps to create and support opportunities for Americans to get involved directly in revitalizing open spaces and recreational sites in their communities.
  • Protect and restore America’s forests. Hillary Clinton believes that restoring and protecting the health of America’s forests requires managing them for the full scope of benefits they provide. Clinton will work with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to set clear management goals that not only recognize the value of forests and public lands for sustainable timber, but for the carbon they absorb, the wildlife habitat they furnish, and the recreation opportunities and clean drinking water they supply. Clinton will build on the success of the Roadless Rule by working to protect and restore old growth and large landscapes that are essential to the health of fish and wildlife. Recognizing that climate change is increasing the dangers and costs of large wildfires in many areas, Clinton will also work to reform the wildfire budget to ensure that firefighters, states, and communities have the resources they need to fight fires every year, and to end the damaging practice of transferring resources away from initiatives that help reduce fire risk and restore the health of forests.


Hunting, fishing, hiking, and outdoor recreation contribute $646 billion to the US economy. There are 6.1 million Americans jobs tied to the outdoor recreation industry – more than the pharmaceutical industry. Recent studies have found that communities with accessible outdoor recreation opportunities experience a competitive advantage, as new businesses and workers relocate to these areas. Conserving our nation’s lands, waters and oceans not only protects our natural heritage, it improves quality of life and creates new jobs and economic opportunity. Partnering with private landowners, ranchers, and farmers can achieve conservation goals and strengthen rural economies. Clinton will set a goal of doubling the size of the outdoor economy in ten years:

  • Catalyze new outdoor economic activity: A large portion of the growth in the outdoor economy is driven by small businesses, many of which are located in rural communities that serve as gateways to national parks and public lands. To encourage start-ups and job creation, Clinton will ask the Small Business Administration (SBA) to dedicate a portion of SBA loans to entrepreneurs seeking to launch small businesses in the outdoor industry as well as existing business owners in gateway communities. Clinton will also designate outdoor recreation cluster communities where federal agencies will work in partnership with community and business leaders to improve outdoor recreation infrastructure, attract visitors, new businesses, and workers, and promote the area for its outdoor amenities.
  • Measure outdoor economic growth: While the outdoor recreation industry is one of country’s largest economic sectors, it is not explicitly captured in US government statistics. Clinton will direct the Department of Commerce to measure and track the economic contributions and jobs of the outdoor recreation industry for the first time, as it currently does for other key sectors.
  • Encourage sound stewardship of working landscapes: Our working landscapes, including our farms, ranches and privately owned forests, are critical to the economic strength of rural communities and to the health of our environment. To better support ranchers, farmers, and landowners who are helping conserve wildlife and open lands, Clinton will increase both the availability and accessibility of funding to incentivize voluntary private conservation. Clinton will work to fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and ask the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “one stop shop” to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that may provide financial support for their conservation practices, including securing additional access for hunters and anglers. To further stimulate the voluntary conservation of declining and at-risk wildlife – before they reach the brink of extinction - Clinton will also propose to nearly double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to $100 million per year.
  • Combat illegal wildlife trafficking around the world. International criminal syndicates are orchestrating the slaughter of many of the world's iconic wildlife species and profiteering by marketing ivory, rhinoceros horn, and other wildlife parts in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.  Many of the criminal syndicates have ties with, and are helping to fund, terrorist groups around the world, and also are engaged in human, drug, and arms trafficking.  Clinton will build on her work as Secretary of State to forge partnerships with the private sector and non-profit community to shut down the U.S. market for illegal wildlife products; deploy U.S. intelligence and enforcement assets to catch and imprison the kingpins that are controlling this multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise; raise the legal penalties for illegal wildlife traffickers; and impose trade sanctions when appropriate on nations that fail to crack down on the illegal killing and marketing of wildlife and wildlife products.


As President, Clinton will set a goal to generate enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. To help meet this goal, Clinton will expand energy production on public lands and waters ten-fold within ten years of taking office, while reforming federal fossil fuel leasing.

  • Accelerate renewable energy project siting and development: Offshore wind in public waters has the ability to meet up to 20 percent of our nation’s electricity demand. Onshore, our public lands are far from meeting their full wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass generation potential. Clinton will expand the Department of Interior’s geothermal, solar and wind energy areas on public lands and offshore waters, and accelerate and streamline permitting for those projects, while also using competitive bidding for lease sales and rental fees, and seeking to provide royalty payments that will benefit the counties and states where the projects occur. She will accelerate renewable energy project development on military bases and other Department of Defense facilities, and establish a “Good Neighbor Renewable Energy Partnership” program that facilitates the siting of community-based solar and other renewable energy projects on public lands located near interested communities. Clinton will advance a joint Department of Interior/Department of Agriculture program to commercialize biomass energy opportunities associated with sound forest management and agricultural practices. She will actively promote the development of renewable energy in offshore waters, working closely with interested coastal states and regional power authorities, and will continue to support R&D in ocean-based renewable energy technologies, including wave and tidal energy, floating wind turbines, and algae, seaweed, and other potential biomass opportunities.
  • Getting low-cost renewable energy to market:A major barrier to renewable energy development on both public and private lands is the ability to build transmission lines to get that energy to market. Transmission developers need to navigate a complex, inefficient and duplicative federal bureaucratic process that can delay construction for years. Poor coordination between federal, state and local agencies further impedes project development. Clinton will streamline the federal permitting process and create a dedicated White House transmission office tasked with expediting federal agency reviews and improving federal, state and local coordination.
  • Raising labor standards: Clinton will ensure that renewable energy development on public lands creates good-paying jobs by supporting project labor agreements that utilize skilled labor and help recruit and train members of the local community, emphasizing construction career pathways for persons of color, women and veterans. Clinton will work to ensure workers have completed or utilize apprentices from jointly managed, DOL-registered programs and emphasize procurement of contractors and project owners/sponsors with solid safety and performance records. 
  • Reforming fossil fuel leasing: As we expand renewable energy development on public lands, we also need to reform fossil fuel leasing. Clinton supports President Obama’s review of the federal coal program and will see it through to completion. She also opposes offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic and Atlantic. Clinton will reform onshore coal, oil, and gas leases to ensure taxpayers are getting a fair deal, raising royalty rates, which currently lag below the rates on state and private lands, and close loopholes. She will also ensure that new leasing decisions account for the accelerating pace of the clean energy transition so taxpayers are protected as the US and global energy market changes.


Water is the lifeblood of the West, and water security is indispensable to the health of the region’s economy, environment, and way of life. The Colorado River alone supplies drinking water to 40 million Americans, irrigates 5.5 million acres of farmland, and injects more than $1 billion annually in the region’s recreation and tourism economy. With the Colorado River Basin and much of the West now entering its 16th year of drought, Western states and communities are taking historic steps to conserve water, extend scarce supplies, and develop collaborative and innovative solutions. Clinton recognizes that the current long-term drought across much of the West poses a dire risk to the health and prosperity of Western communities and believes the federal government can and should be a better partner in supporting state and locally-led efforts to improve water security. Clinton will:

  • Increase federal investment in water conservation through a coordinated, multi-agency Western Water Partnership. One of the most important ways the federal government can help avoid shortage conditions on the Colorado River and in other drought-afflicted watersheds in the West is to increase its investment in water conservation initiatives. To that end, Clinton will launch a coordinated strategy to help fund locally-led water efficiency, conservation, and infrastructure modernization projects across the region. USDA, for example, will provide support for farmers and ranchers in the Colorado River Basin who are working to reduce water use in their operations, restore habitat for at-risk wildlife, and integrate water efficiency technologies. Clinton will also more than triple the current investment in the Bureau of Reclamation’s primary water conservation grant program, called WaterSMART, to $100 million per year to support infrastructure modernization and environmental restoration projects that can save water.
  • Expand water reuse. Western cities, including Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, are at the leading edge of strategies and technologies to extend scarce supplies through water reuse, such as through stormwater capture and treatment, wastewater treatment enhancement, and groundwater recharge infrastructure. Clinton will increase investments in water reuse through additional grants and loans, with a goal of doubling public-private partnership investments in water reuse and reclamation in the first term.
  • Establish a new Water Innovation Lab. The United States should lead the world in developing and deploying technologies to improve water efficiency and extend supplies. Yet with over 55,000 water utilities across the country, the sector is too fragmented to adequately invest in innovation. The United States has 17 national labs that work on energy, but not one that is focused exclusively on water. As President, Clinton will create a national Water Innovation Lab to develop cutting edge efficiency, treatment and reuse solutions. The Lab will bring urban water managers, farmers and tribes together with engineers, entrepreneurs, conservationists and other stakeholders to practical and usable technologies and strategies that can be deployed by local water utilities, agricultural and industrial water users, and environmental restoration projects across the country.