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updated 4/16/2010 12:43:11 PM ET 2010-04-16T16:43:11

President Barack Obama launched a new initiative Friday to conserve cherished land and encourage more Americans to enjoy the outdoors.

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The president said the "America's Great Outdoors" program will involve a series of listening sessions throughout the nation to solicit an array of ideas.

Obama said conservation is an integral part of economic growth, and that his new program also will create jobs. He promised that it won't be a big federal program driven from Washington.

The initiative will be led by the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality and departments of Agriculture and Interior. Obama is to receive a report by Nov. 15 outlining an action plan to both reconnect Americans to nature and enhance conservation efforts.

Eight departments and the White House Office of Management and Budget are to work with the initiative to "identify existing resources," and to align policies to meet the initiative's goals.

Obama made his remarks, alongside key department and agency heads, at a White House-sponsored "Conference on the Great Outdoors" at the Interior Department.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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