HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut River watershed is to be recognized as the first in the United States to be dedicated for conservation and recreation.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will lead a ceremony Thursday in Hartford. He will name the Connecticut River watershed as the nation's first National Blueway.

It's part of an initiative by President Barack Obama known as America's Great Outdoors Rivers, which is intended to establish a community conservation and recreation agenda. The designation in Hartford is intended to recognize the work of more than 40 organizations, the Connecticut River Watershed Council, states and others.

Conservation and environmental advocates say the goal of creating a Blueways is to build on already popular trails and can help connect communities, landscapes, residents and outdoors enthusiasts with recreation and to protect land and water resources.

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