The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on reauthorization of legislation allowing federal agencies to collect and retain entrance and recreation fees.
According to a news release, ARC told the Congress that recreationists supported fees but were concerned about the lack of focus on improvements in recreation experiences following the enactment of the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
“We celebrate the marvelous shared legacy of our Great Outdoors – one in three acres of the surface of the nation managed by federal agencies and hosting well in excess of a billion recreation visits annually. Americans spend some $650 billion annually on fun outdoors and our Great Outdoors is a vital element in attracting international tourists,” Derrick Crandall, ARC President, told the panel.
Crandall noted that tight budgets made recreation fees even more important to federal agencies. Yet inadequate communications by the agencies and failure to strive for convenient and cost-effective fee programs have lessened support for fees by recreationists. He cited a letter to the Congress by a broad group of recreation, conservation and tourism organizations which outlined twelve consensus principles for federal recreation fees, including retention and use of the fees in close connection with the sites and the activities generating the fees. The organizations also called upon the Congress to include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the largest federal provider of recreation visits, under the same fee program as the other five agencies with major recreation management roles.
“Public involvement in federal recreation fee programs is vital. The first step is better notification of fee program proposals,” Crandall said. ARC and other groups urged the Congress to require the agencies to set up a system which would allow individuals and organizations to register to be notified of fee proposals, indicating geographic and other parameters.
The organizations also noted that federal fees are often inconvenient for visitors. Use of commonly-used non-federal payment systems, such as EZ-Pass and PayPal, should be tested, they told the Congress.
ARC’s testimony urged new outreach and promotion efforts by federal agencies. “Americans gain little from great places that are invisible to them. And much of the Great Outdoors is not on the radar screens of younger, more urban and more diverse Americans. Greatly improved websites, use of social media and a redirected www.recreation.gov can help us deal with federal site visitations that have lagged far behind population growth,” ARC’s spokesperson said. “We support partner-based promotional activities designed to shift demand to lesser visited sites or to non-peak periods. And in fact we would appreciate this committee making it clear to the agencies that building awareness and promotion are legitimate uses of a portion of FLREA receipts.”
Under existing provisions, fees generate more than $300 million annually to help support federal recreation programs. As recently as 1996, federal recreation fees were not retained by the collecting agencies. ARC and other organizations believe that the public will support continued and even increased fees that deliver the experiences the public seeks when visiting national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and other public lands and waters.
Copies of the ARC testimony and the multi-organizational letter are available at www.funoutdoors.com. The hearing can be viewed here.
Excitement is growing across the nation about plans for Great Outdoors Week and Great Outdoors Month starting Saturday (June 1).
According to a news release, Great Outdoors Month celebrates a variety of important events and actions that occur during June, and highlights the benefits of active fun outdoors and our magnificent shared resources of forests, parks, refuges and other public lands and waters. Great Outdoors Week (June 1-8) showcases efforts enhancing outdoor recreation for all Americans in the 21st century through awards, briefings and other events in the Nation’s Capital.
Great Outdoors Week is coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and includes events co-hosted by more than a dozen federal agencies and national organizations:
- Great Outdoors Week’s action-packed schedule begins on Monday with presentation of the Beacon Awards – honoring innovative uses of technology in public lands management to boost visitor experiences and to better manage visits – at the Department of the Interior’s Stewart Udall Building followed by the week’s opening reception – an ice cream social.
- On Tuesday, ARC’s Legends Awards, honoring outstanding public land management employees, will precede the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange Luncheon. That same day, the Recreational Trails Program award ceremony and briefing will be held on Capitol Hill.
- On Wednesday, the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award will be presented to a leading public figure whose personal efforts have significantly enhanced opportunities for others to enjoy the outdoors and a special program on the National Mall will focus on Healthy Food in Parks and the role of recreation in a happy, healthy nation.
- On Saturday, public and private partners across the nation will team up to help tens of thousands of youth have fun outdoor adventures, typically close by the urban homes of these youth. Federal agencies, state and local park agencies, recreation businesses, healthcare companies and enthusiast groups will host National Get Outdoors Day events at nearly 150 locations and help these youth and their families begin a new chapter of their lives exploring and enjoying the incredible shared legacy of America’s Great Outdoors.
For more information, see www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org/.
Great Outdoors Month will again highlight important initiatives across the country helping Americans pursue healthier, outdoor lives. These initiatives include National Trails Day (June 1), National Fishing and Boating Week (June 1-9), the Great American Backyard Campout (June 22), National Get Outdoors Day (June 8), and more. Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day will also be celebrated across the nation on June 8.
A large coalition of outdoor recreation leaders has once again asked the President, all 50 governors and other key officials to proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month. The proclamations provide nationwide attention to the economic importance of recreation and the special role of the Great Outdoors in re-establishing the U.S. as a major destination for international visitors. The nation’s health community is also increasingly vocal regarding the benefits of active time in the Great Outdoors as key to better health, better education and support for conservation.
The prevailing opinion in the outdoor hospitality industry is that efforts to reduce federal spending by cutting back on all government services, including the nation’s public lands, will be bad for private RV parks and campgrounds as well.
The deadline to avoid implementation of the so-called sequestration is Thursday (Feb. 29). Otherwise, the cutbacks take effect on Friday.
“I wish I could tell you there will be no impact,” Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), told Woodall’s Campground Management. “The impact will be a lot less than a lot of the hype in the media, and less than the impact of rising gasoline prices over the last month.”
However, he said the current crisis is a good time for the private sector (RV park and campground owners as well as RV manufacturers) to be proactive with the federal government and help scrutinize their expenditures.
“Owners can sit back and accept those cuts, then complain to members of Congress or they can look for a sustainable solition to become a partner with federal programs we would like to make sustainable, no matter what happens,” Crandall said.
“First of all, whether or not sequestration happens in its current form, we’re looking at a lean period for budgets of National Park Service (NPS) and other public land providers,” Crandall said. “Sequestration gets all the (current) spotlight, but the overall budget projections for federal agencies that now serve a billion visitors are not good for the next several years. It is an issue that everybody in the recreation field should be looking at.”
The private sector is good at operating on reduced budgets – businesses routinely do so during lean times, Crandall said, but the concept is almost alien to the federal government.
“Most of us had our personal budgets affected by the downturn in the economy starting in 2007,” he said, “but the recovery spending of 2008-2010 allowed the federal agencies to continue without any impact from the recession.”
Crandall opposes across-the-board cuts in agencies like the National Park Service, because such cuts would cut “muscle and bone as well as fat.”
Instead, Crandall is taking this opportunity to ask agencies like the NPS, which faces a $115 million cutback via sequestration, to work with the private sector for the betterment of both.
To read the entire report on Woodall’s Campground Management click here.
The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has selected four federal programs and efforts as recipients of the 2012 Beacon Awards, which recognize outstanding efforts by federal agencies and partners in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management.
Beacon Awards were first presented by the American Recreation Coalition in 2005. Nominations are made by federal agencies and are judged against the award criteria – which are:
• Innovative use of technology for visitor services or recreation management.
• Use of partnerships with for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
• Efforts to share news of creative solutions within the agency.
• Community support for the work of this initiative.
The recipients of ARC’s 2012 Beacon Awards were honored during Great Outdoors Week on Monday (June 4) at a ceremony in the Rachel Carson Room of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Stewart Udall Building. Honorees are:
• Interagency Fee Working Group: Enabled American seniors to obtain lifetime federal lands passes via the Internet and use of videoconferencing solutions to coordinate the planning for and implementation of the new active duty military America the Beautiful Pass program.
• Carmen Leong-Minch, San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Used creativity and technology to connect people to nature and introduce non-traditional audiences to national wildlife refuges
• Grand Teton National Park. National Park Service: Used technology-based initiatives allowing the park to reach key audiences, including the successful education program centered on a live-feed program called ‘Snow Desk.’
• “Stay The Trail” Campaign, Bureau of Land Management and Responsible
Recreation Foundation: Combined two essential ingredients for 21st Century recreation programs – partnerships and technology – in its “Stay the Trail” program which uses signs, brochures and training programs to reach off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders with messages about responsible use of public lands.
For more information on Great Outdoors Week, visit www.funoutdoors.com.
The celebration of 2011 National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) – led by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and the USDA Forest Service – is over, but its accomplishments continue.
According to a press release, GO Day received significant electronic and print media coverage leading up to – and since – June 11. Tens of thousands of children across the country enjoyed various outdoor activities at GO Day events, made possible by hundreds of national and local partners that staffed activity centers and provided other support at approximately 150 sites.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Outside” campaign blogsite carried a synopsis of the day with photos, stating: “The U.S. Forest Service and community partners have been encouraging children and their families across the country to spend time reconnecting with nature, trying new recreation activities and just having some good fun.”
Among the major media “scores” by GO Day were all three major TV stations in Denver. ABC News picked up the story in at least two regions, interviewing GO Day coordinators in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. WAMU 88.5 – an affiliate of National Public Radio – also picked up the story, interviewing ARC President Derrick Crandall about local efforts in Washington, D.C.
This year marked the fourth year that participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry teamed up to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. These diverse partners offered opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities.
Prime goals of the national celebration included reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors. Details on the activities at various GO Day sites are available at: www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org/locations/.
The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) presented its 2011 Legends Awards to seven federal managers in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people.
The awards were presented on June 16 during Great Outdoors Week – ARC’s celebration of the value and importance of outdoor recreation. Initiated by ARC in 1991, the Legends Award program calls on federal land management agencies to nominate an individual whose extraordinary personal efforts have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources.
The 2011 Legends Award recipients represent the Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Reclamation, agencies together hosting more than a billion recreation visits annually.
Winners of the 2011 Legends Awards are: Tracy N. Fancher, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; William Kuntz, Bureau of Land Management; Rita Hennessy, National Park Service; Mark Hoines, Federal Highway Administration; Lynne Beeson, U.S. Forest Service; Jennifer Jewett, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Peggi Brooks, Bureau of Reclamation.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson have been chosen to receive the 2011 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, the recreation community’s most prestigious award.
The award is presented to individuals whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences across America, according to a press release.
The selection of shared recipients for the award, created in 1989, is unprecedented and reflects widespread enthusiasm within the recreation community for the unity and focus the four cabinet-rank officials of the Obama administration have provided to national recreation policy through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
“These four national leaders have worked to stimulate broad and open public debate, to collect best practices, to explore new ideas, including the linkage between health and the Great Outdoors, and to relate America’s Great Outdoors to 21st century lifestyles and issues,” said Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). “The report to the president that they prepared has already brought about changes and creates the framework for continuing the tradition of global conservation leadership this nation has provided and enriching the precious legacy all Americans share in our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters.”
In other ARC news, six federal programs and efforts were named recipients of the 2011 Beacon Awards, which recognize outstanding efforts by federal agencies and partners in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management.
The 2011 recipients of ARC’s Beacon Award were honored Monday (June 13) during Great Outdoors Week at a ceremony on the Patio of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Whitten Building. Honorees are:
• Lake Okeechobee Visitor Center Rehabilitation Project, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nomination.
• Cleveland and Angeles National Forests Apply Robert Bateman’s “Get to Know Your Wild Neighbors Program,” a U.S. Forest Service nomination.
• Web Enhancements of Delivering USFS Recreation, a U.S. Forest Service nomination.
• “Journals & JPGs: Seasons on the (National Elk) Refuge” and “Refuge Connections,” a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nomination.
• Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Visitor Enjoyment Initiative, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nomination.
• Youth Ambassador Program (YAP!) at New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, a National Park Service nomination.
The following is an update from Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), outlining progress in Congress on reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) initiative.
The nation’s leading trail organizations expressed appreciation and delight regarding a new letter to key congressional leaders, who are crafting a new national surface transportation bill, calling for reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The letter was drafted by U.S. representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Mike Michaud (D-ME) and signed by 74 members of Congress.
“The letter demonstrates that this program, created in 1991, has made a difference across the nation,” said Crandall, who serves as co-chair of the Coalition for Recreational Trails. “It may be small by Washington standards, but has made a real difference in community after community, and has made public lands more accessible and valued.”
The congressional letter is unusual both because of the large number of signers and the geographic and ideological diversity of the support it demonstrates. The letter is especially timely because Congress is expected to take action on a successor to SAFETEA-LU, a multi-year surface transportation law directing the use of collected federal motorfuel taxes which expired in 2009 and has been extended for short periods ever since.
According to the congressional letter, “The philosophy behind the RTP is simple: fuel taxes collected from non-highway users should benefit those who paid the taxes.” The letter goes on to say,” the RTP has brought new economic vitality to communities across the nation, helped Americans to be active and healthy, and unified often-divided trail interests to craft state trail plans and aid all trail interests. More than 15,000 projects have been funded under this program to date, including trail corridor purchases, trail construction and maintenance and environmental mitigation.”
Crandall noted that the 74 signers included longtime members of Congress holding senior positions on key committees as well as new members of Congress, and that the signers were from 36 states.
“The Congressional letter demonstrates the same kind of broad support as that shown earlier this year when nearly 500 national, state and local organizations wrote to the Congress and expressed strong support for continuing RTP,” said Crandall.
“We especially want to thank congressmen Petri and Michaud for taking action on behalf of their constituents and trail enthusiasts across the nation,” Crandall added. “With the number and complexity of issues before the Congress, small but vital federal programs like RTP could be forgotten without champions in the House and Senate. We thank each of the signers – and especially Representatives Petri and Michaud.”
The 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 http://www.funoutdoors.com/taxonomy/view/or/125.
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 email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> 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 www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hphpUS. To see a copy of Food for the Parks, describing efforts to promote healthier foods in a number of parks, click here http://www.funoutdoors.com/files/Food%20for%20Parks.pdf.
Editor’s Note: The following news release came from the American Recreation Coalition, which took part in the Partners Outdoors conference held at the Gaylord Texan and on Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas.
More than 100 creative recreation industry and federal agency leaders participated in Partners Outdoors 2011 late last month. The dual themes were Health and the Great Outdoors and Getting More Americans into Their Great Outdoors. Organizations represented are centrally involved in efforts to link Americans to the outdoors.
Participants studied key public and private efforts underway to connect people to the outdoors at the national, state and local levels, including the Obama administration’s new America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Discussions built on the groundbreaking dialogue at last year’s Partners Outdoors meeting between the healthcare and recreation communities, with medical doctors and others sharing ideas and experiences.
There is growing agreement that real promise exists for improving the health of the American people through recreation, including redirecting focus from traditional spending on drugs and surgery to investments in recreation facilities and opportunities.
The group toured the Vineyards Campground, Grapevine, host city for Partners Outdoors 2011, to learn about creative public-private partnerships and outdoor-focused operations within a major urban area. The city of Grapevine, in North Texas 25 minutes north of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, has leased 770 acres of land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its recreational program. All revenue generated on the leased lands goes into an enterprise fund and is used for park maintenance and improvements on site.
The Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department has been able to greatly enhance its recreation offerings, including numerous new hiking and biking routes, fishing, boating and kayaking on two recreational lakes, two marinas, international facilities (Silver Lake and Twin Coves), fully-furnished cabins and pull-through RV facilities. The Corps of Engineers plans to use Grapevine as an example of a successful water resource partnership.
Session topics included: The Future of Recreation; America’s Great Outdoors Initiative: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going; Partners Working to Keep Americans Fishing and Boating in the Great Outdoors; Getting Americans Back Outdoors; Health People, Healthy Places: Building the Link; Opportunities for Partnerships Promoting Active Lifestyles in the 21st Century; Education and the Outdoors; Making Great Outdoors Month a Vehicle for Action; and People and the Great Outdoors: The Challenges and the Opportunities.
On Sunday, Jan. 23, Partners Outdoors attendees were welcomed by Col. Thomas Kula, Division Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). He noted the Corps’ support for Partners Outdoors and said the USACE appreciated the opportunity to collaborate on efforts “to get people outdoors.”
He introduced the Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, Civil Works. She noted that the U.S. Corps of Engineers is the nation’s largest provider of outdoors recreation, managing 12 million acres of lands and waters and attracting nearly 400 million visits annually. Eighty percent of the Corps recreation projects are within 50 miles of major metropolitan areas, Darcy said, and the Corps seeks partnerships with state and local governments, Native American tribes and with private and public groups.
She spoke about the Let’s Move! Initiative and the Value to the Nation study which demonstrates how the Corp impacts Americans and our economy. She noted www.recreation.gov is the most visited section of the BLM website and introduced Heather Burke, the new National Advisor for Partnerships for USACE.
Texas A&M University Professor on the Future of Recreation
Keynote speaker, Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor John Crompton, spoke about the Future of Recreation. He emphasized the interconnection between travel and parks, and how parks serve as “economic engines.” He said recreation meets basic human needs but warned that people who do not use park and recreation services are less likely to value them and, if not valued, they are less likely to be supported.
He challenged the group to see recreation through a “transformational lens,” repositioning recreation and park services so that they are perceived to be a central contribution to alleviating the major community problems identified by taxpayers and decision-makers. He cited reduced health care costs, less juvenile crime, more community cohesion, higher property values and economic development as some of the contributions of recreation.
The “big idea” associated with repositioning is that funds are invested in solutions to a community’s most pressing problems. He cited Mustang Island State Park as an example of an economic engine. It had an operating loss of $52,000 but generated 47 jobs and more than $1.4 million in income to Nueces County residents. Thus the cost to the state is $1,100 per job, a leverage ratio of 1:27. Each net state dollar invested generates $27 of income for local residents.
He concluded by saying economic success depends on what happens inside a facility and made the analogy to a retail store. Investment in services and amenities means more visitors, more per capita expenditures, and thus more jobs and income to local residents
Organizations centrally involved in efforts to link Americans to the outdoors participated:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Col. Thomas Kula, Division Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, Civil Works, opened the meeting and Michael Ensch, chief of operations, Civil Works, was a keynote speaker.
- American Recreation Coalition: Derrick Crandall, president, addressed Opportunities Facing Partners Outdoors 2011.
- Texas A&M University: The keynote address focused on The Future of Recreation by John Crompton, distinguished professor, Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences.
- Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Will Shafroth spoke about America’s Great Outdoors Initiative: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going.
- Bureau of Land Management: Robert Abbey, director of the BLM, spoke on People and the Great Outdoors: The Challenges and the Opportunities.
- Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation: Frank Peterson, president, discussed Partners Working to Keep Americans Fishing and Boating in the Great Outdoors.
- Prince William County Schools, Virginia: Steven Walts, superintendent, spoke on Education and the Outdoors and ED OUT.