Plans in Works for National Parks’ Centennial

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May 5, 2011 by   Comments Off on Plans in Works for National Parks’ Centennial

imageThe 100th anniversary of the National Park Service’s (NPS) creation will be celebrated on Aug. 25, 2016.

NPS Director Jon Jarvis has created a task force to develop a five-year strategy to equip the agency for its next century. Headed by Vic Knox, deputy regional director in Alaska, the task force will prepare a plan scheduled for release on Aug. 25, 2011, according to a news release from the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).

The team has been told to review various NPS “vision” documents like the Second Century Commission report and the America’s Great Outdoors recommendations and, from these, develop an executable plan. The director has instructed the task force to focus on partnerships and existing laws and resources and to incorporate specific, measurable goals.

The team has completed an outline for its plan, identifying five themes with corresponding goals. The themes are:

  • Connecting People to Parks
  • Telling America’s Story
  • Conserving and Restoring America’s National Parks
  • Supporting Community-Based Conservation and Recreational Access
  • Enhancing Professional Excellence

ARC and other organizations are working closely with NPS on development of the five-year strategy, for example, urging expansion of programs like the Guest Donation Program to a level of $10 million annually, and increases in health-related agency efforts, such as the Park Prescriptions program, in which doctors prescribe active outdoor fun to treat illnesses ranging from obesity to hypertension to diabetes. Groups like the National Park Hospitality Association are urging private funding of needed expansion and renovations of park visitor infrastructure.

ARC serves on a National Park Centennial Steering Committee, along with such organizations as the National Park Foundation and the National Parks Conservation Association, which has developed a proposed campaign to build awareness of parks, boost visitation, volunteerism and service and add new resources through increased park philanthropy by individuals and organizations. The campaign concept is being shared with a variety of partners and allies, with Congressional figures, and with NPS officials.

Other stories from ARC follow.

Great Outdoors Month

Across the country, state governments are showing their support for the Great Outdoors with governor’s proclamations of June as Great Outdoors Month (GOM). We have 20 official proclamations in hand and more are being received every day. To see if your state has submitted its proclamation, visit

Many national organizations are also showing their support – June will see events hosted by the American Hiking Society, National Wildlife Federation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Association of Marina Industries, Coalition for Recreational Trails, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and many others. And more and more state organizations are taking an active part in the 2011 Great Outdoors Month. The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Camp-California), for example, will support ARVC’s GOM efforts by honoring a 20% off coupon at participating California parks. Camp-California is also encouraging its campgrounds to participate in National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) by hosting a special event such as an open house, scavenger hunt or camping demonstration in honor of the national celebration on June 11. ARVC’s efforts, outlined in last month’s newsletter, encourage Americans to explore camping and other recreational activities in June. Coupons for a 20% discount at participating campgrounds, RV parks and resorts in June are being distributed by state tourism offices across the country. Twenty states, including California, have already signed on to participate in ARVC’s GOM promotion.

Great Outdoors Week

ARC coordinates Great Outdoors Week in Washington, D.C., each year. The celebration will be held from June 11-18 this year. Great Outdoors Week will include the D.C. site of National Get Outdoors Day, important awards presentations, and much more.

Great Outdoors Week At-A-Glance:

  • June 11 National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day), 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Kingman Island, Washington, D.C.
  • June 13 Ice Cream Social and Beacon Awards, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., USDA Whitten Building Patio.
  • June 14 ED OUT, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Prince William County, Va.
  • June 15 Coalition for Recreational Trails Awards, noon to 1:30 p.m., Rayburn House Office Building.
  • June 15 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award Celebration, 5:30 to 7 p.m., TBD.
  • June 16 Recreation Exchange with Legends Awards, noon to 2 p.m., U.S. Department of the Interior South Building.

With the exception of GO Day, these events are by invitation only. Details are available from Cathy Ahern at <> or (202) 682-9530.

National Get Outdoors Day

National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day), one of Great Outdoors Month’s key events, is gearing up for a spectacular national showcasing of the Great Outdoors on June 11th. Over 100 sites will participate, featuring partners including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, AmeriCorps, Girl Scouts of America, Leave No Trace and REI. Signature events will occur at: Kingman Island in Washington, D.C.; Denver City Park in Denver, Colo.; the National Children’s Forest in San Bernardino, Calif.; the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minn.; Canyon Rim Park in Salt Lake City, Utah; and the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, Wash. For more information, please visit

Forest Service Planning Rule Meets New Controversy

The Coalition for Recreation in the National Forests (CRNF) is preparing comments on the Forest Service’s draft Planning Rule, which was released on Feb. 14. The draft Planning Rule included welcome references to recreation as a key objective of national forest management, pleasing the more than 100 recreation organizations that had taken part in a year-long public involvement process. The public comment period is scheduled to close on May 16, although a number of organizations have urged an extension of the comment period for several reasons. For one thing, the Forest Service commissioned a scientific review of the draft without public notification, and the review has just been released. In addition, the CRNF has pointed out that new fiscal realities for the agency, arising from concerns over federal deficits, may render some of the plan’s process unachievable, including the heavy focus on monitoring and frequent revisions of plans. CRNF also noted that Congressional interest in the draft rule is strong, but the intense controversy over the federal budget has prevented some of the expected Congressional review from taking place.

The appointment of a scientific review panel surprised many. While most forest interests support a strong consideration of science in future forest plans, CRNF and others have noted that many times science offers conflicting information – on species habitat protection and water management, for example. CRNF has also argued that science must also consider human health and the viability of gateways to forests, and must be weighed against other considerations in crafting forest plans.

CRNF also plans to urge the Forest Service to strike from the draft rule many new terms that raise questions about intent – such as the focus throughout the Planning Rule on “sustainable recreation,” which is undefined in law and raises questions about whether the term will be used to exclude some traditional recreation uses of forests on environmental grounds or favor recreation that generates fees.

For more on CRNF efforts, contact Derrick Crandall at

Mike Ensch of USACE to Speak at May Recreation Exchange

The American Recreation Coalition is delighted to welcome Michael G. Ensch as our special guest for the May 2011 Recreation Exchange. Mike Ensch has been Chief of Operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Directorate of Civil Works since Nov. 11, 2007.  Ensch will discuss the Corps’ new recreation strategy, which links the agency’s recreation efforts both to the overall mission of the Corps and the U.S. Army to protect the nation’s health, safety and security as well as to special efforts to aid active-duty, retired and reserve military and their families. The strategy seeks to continue the agency’s leading role in providing public recreation opportunities in America. Currently, the Corps hosts approximately 370 million recreation visits annually.

Be sure to join us on May 19 from noon to 2 p.m. at Bobby Van’s Grill (1201 New York Avenue, NW) as Ensch discusses, in addition to the recreation strategy, other key developments for the Corps regarding the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and access to public waters.

Call us at (202) 682-9530 or send an e-mail to  by 4 p.m. on May 17 to let us know your plans.

Healthy Parks, Healthy People Summit Marks a Key ARC Accomplishment

The National Park Service (NPS) organized the Healthy Parks Healthy People US 2011 summit near San Francisco in April. Some 100 national leaders from conservation, health and nutrition agencies, organizations and corporations gathered to focus on ways to utilize the Great Outdoors as a tool in achieving a healthier America.

Participants in the conference included NPS Director Jon Jarvis. Also present was NPS Deputy Director Peggy O’Dell and NPS Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. Unusual attendees for a parks-focused session were a dozen medical doctors and public health professionals, senior leaders from UnitedHealth and Kaiser Permanente as well as representatives from nonprofits like NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Robin Schepper, the director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, participated actively, along with recreation community leaders ranging from Ruth Coleman of California State Parks, Greg Moore of the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy, and key park concessioners.

The Healthy Parks Healthy People conference grew out of a movement started at the ARC-sponsored Partners Outdoors meeting in 2010. Related discussions played an important role in the White House America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Support has grown within the healthcare community about opportunities for cost-effective wellness and disease interventions utilizing the Great Outdoors. The recognition of the financial and quality-of-life costs of sedentary lives, and of lowered life expectancy, is achieving real cogency. The meeting ended with a range of planned actions, including a new Healthy Foods for the Parks effort, plans for a major Healthy People Healthy Parks congress in 2013 or 2014, and plans for a range of pilot efforts tying parks and other outdoor places to public health campaigns

To see Jon Jarvis’ remarks at the session, click here To see a copy of Food for the Parks, describing efforts to promote healthier foods in a number of parks, click here

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