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Can Public/Private Partnerships Benefit Parks?

How public agencies can keep parks and campgrounds open through private recreation management partnerships is the focus of a day-long conference on Nov. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The event is being planned by Warren Meyer, the president of National Forest Recreation Association. It takes place from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort.

The day-long conference is being held in conjunction with the association’s 63rd Annual Conference and Trade Show, which will be held in Scottsdale Nov. 2-4.

“For 30 years, the U.S. Forest Service has seen radically declining recreation budgets, with far greater reductions than places like California is facing, but has not had to close parks and has kept most of their recreation areas well-maintained,” Meyer stated in a news release. “Their innovation was to take advantage of the substantially lower costs of private operators to run their campgrounds and picnic areas.

“For the last couple of years, it has frustrated me to no end to watch states like California and Arizona — really almost every state in the country — let some parks accumulate deferred maintenance while other are closed when it simply is not necessary,” he added.

Topics to be discussed include:

• History of recreation public-private partnerships (PPP), including current examples of parks participants may contact or visit.

• Case studies from the U.S. Forest Service, the world’s largest user of recreation PPPs.

• Advantages of recreation PPPs, and pitfalls to be avoided.

• Typical division of responsibilities between the public and private partners in these contracts.

• Best practice contract structure and contracting process.

• Supporting legislation and relationships between agencies.

Speakers include:

• Warren Meyer, president of the National Forest Recreation Association, the trade group of private park operators in the U.S. Forest Service. He is also CEO of Recreation Resource Management, one of the largest private park management companies in the country, and the proprietor of ParkPrivatization.com, the leading online journal of Recreation PPP news and issues.

• Len Gilroy, director of government reform at Reason Foundation where he is a certified urban planner who researches privatization, government reform, transportation, infrastructure and urban policy issues. Gilroy is the editor of the world’s most respected newsletter on privatization, Privatization Watch, and is the editor of the widely read Annual Privatization Report.

Due to generous donations from sponsors, the cost to participate in the conference is $100 per person, but public officials and agency employees may attend for free. Click here to learn more about the entire conference.

For more information, call Meyer at (602) 569-2333 or e-mail warren@camprrm.com.

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