Outdoors groups gear up to make pitch to feds

Local conservation and outdoors groups are gearing up to share ideas with the federal government. They'll have a chance Wednesday to speak to top Obama administration officials about how to do a better job of protecting natural resources.

Federal officials have been meeting with people around the country to get ideas for a national policy on land and water conservation.

Conservation Minnesota spokesman Dave Dempsey said it's important to get more people enjoying the outdoors.

"I don't think we can have a successful and healthy environment nationally if we're looking at it through windshields and windows," he said. "You really have to be outdoors to be enjoying it, to feel it's important to make a government and social priority to clean it up."

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Dempsey said Minnesota has water wonderlands in remote parts of the state, but most Minnesotans never get there.

"We're looking for ways to get millions of Minnesotans outdoors, enjoying the outdoors and connecting with nature," he said.

Dempsey said he'll ask the visiting federal officials to designate more protected areas, including waterways, in and around urban areas.

He's hoping President Obama will announce a national conservation agenda in his state of the union speech.

The listening session at the University of Minnesota is one of about 20 being held this summer around the country.