American Recreation Coalition

Partners Outdoors 2007: Unlocking the Fun and Benefits of the Outdoors to Urban Americans

National recreation leaders from the public and private sectors will gather for the 16th Partners Outdoors Conference on January 7-10, 2007 in Lake Arrowhead, California. Organized annually by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), this year’s theme is “Unlocking the Fun and Benefits of the Outdoors to Urban Americans, And Especially Urban Youth.” Sponsors include the seven federal land management agencies, the National Association of State Park Directors and the American Recreation Coalition.

Charles Jordan, Chairman of the Conservation Fund, will give the opening address, “Connecting Americans to the Outdoors: Communications, Places and Programs.” Responders will include Robert Johnson, Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, Sally Collins, Associate Chief, USDA Forest Service and other top agency officials.

Pioneering Program Introduces Urban Youth to Outdoor Experiences, Healthier Lifestyles

Washington, D.C. (November 8)–A health and lifestyle strategy to provide inner-city and other economically disadvantaged children with an introduction to America’s national parks, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands will be expanded in 2007 to include more participants and more varied experiences, according to a coalition of government agencies, corporations and others that sponsor Wonderful Outdoor World (WOW).

WOW national spokesperson Derrick Crandall said, “Urban environments, particularly for children of color, often are places with few opportunities to socialize and recreate safely. WOW works to change lives by offering young people fun and often life-altering outdoor adventures which they would otherwise be unlikely to enjoy.”

The National Scenic Byways Program: A Celebration and Look Ahead

Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2006) – The National Scenic Byways Program celebrates its 15th anniversary in December and the occasion will be marked in Washington, D.C., with “The National Scenic Byways Program: A Celebration and Look Ahead” on December 11, 2006. For a complete schedule of the program and a list of program sponsors, click here.

Sponsored by the Scenic Byways Coalition in cooperation with the America’s Byways Resource Center, the half-day program will begin at 1:00 pm at the Stephen Decatur House with welcoming remarks by the Honorable J. Richard Capka, Federal Highway Administrator. The program will include a visual history of the America’s Byways program and recollections of the program’s earliest champions. Distinguished guests will discuss the history and accomplishments of the National Scenic Byways program.

Forest Service Chief Announces 2007 Recreation Forums, New Challenge Cost Share to Benefit Recreation

Washington, DC - (October 17, 2006) - Dale Bosworth, Chief of the USDA Forest Service, told the Recreation Exchange that his agency is making progress in its effort to reposition itself for the 21st century, including a much higher role for recreation - in spite of budgetary constraints caused by the war on terror and unprecedented wildfire activity. These achievements include:

  • development of the Travel Management rule in response to the threat of unmanaged recreation and now being implemented;

  • passage of the Recreation Enhancement Act to sustain recreation management and to provide for stakeholder input into the use of fee-generated funds through Recreation Resource Advisory Committees; and

  • Recreation Site Facility Master Planning, a process to combine analysis of use trends with financial analysis to provide, in consultation with the public, “the best recreation opportunities in the right places.”

To read more, click here.

Park Concessioners Receive 2006 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards

Washington, D.C. - Xanterra Parks and Resorts and Doyon/Aramark are among the recently-announced recipients of National Park Service (NPS) 2006 Environmental Achievement Awards honoring outstanding accomplishments in the preservation and protection of park resources. According to out-going NPS Director Fran Mainella, “The award recipients have demonstrated exceptional achievements in the protection of ecosystems, the increase of solar and wind power, the reduction of solid waste and petroleum use, the design of sustainable buildings, and the purchasing of ‘green’ products.”

Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a concessioner at Zion National Park in Utah, received an environmental stewardship award. The company was recognized for pollution prevention and energy and water conservation programs at the Zion Lodge. Xanterra implemented wind power and a solar photovoltaic system to utilize renewable energy sources. They reduced water usage by 50% through native plant landscaping, low-flow fixtures, linen re-use, and guest education about water conservation, and decreased solid waste through a program of recycling, composting, and green procurement. Additionally, they improved their fleet fuel economy by purchasing hybrid cars and fuel efficient vehicles.

Forest Service to Create Five New Rec RACs and Share BLM's in Eight States

Washington, DC - (September 22, 2006) A new public advisory committee structure has been announced by the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. Required by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, Recreation Resource Advisory Committees must be established in each state or region to advise on the recreation fee program. The structure agreed to provides for the agencies to share existing Bureau of Land Management RACs in eight states and to establish five new Recreation RACs across the nation. To read the Forest Service's news release, click here.

Retiring NPS Director Mainella Addresses Recreation Exchange

Washington, D.C. (September 19, 2006) - National Park Service Director Fran Mainella delivered an upbeat message at the September Recreation Exchange. She told 40 recreation community leaders that she is "proud to have added recreation to the National Park Service vocabulary" during her six year tenure at the agency. Director Mainella also told the group that the recently updated NPS Management Policies address enjoyment of the parks through recreation to a greater extent than before "even if they didn’t come along as far as you wanted." She added that the policies are a living document in which cooperative conservation and civic engagement have also received new emphasis – and will enhance visitor services.

Ms. Mainella, who recently announced her resignation effective mid-October, told the group that FY 2008 budget talks are underway and that the Department of the Interior proposal would soon undergo review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Said Mainella, "I am going to OMB with the best budget proposal the agency has ever had," and she expressed optimism that the final proposal, to be released in February 2007, will be well-received by the recreation community. "It’ll put smiles on your faces," she said.

$25.5 Million in Scenic Byways Grants Awarded

The 2006 National Scenic Byways Grants were announced August 29. Acting Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino selected 309 projects in 45 States to receive a total of $25.5 million in discretionary National Scenic Byways Program 2006 grants.

Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has provided over $275 million in funding for 2,181 State and nationally designated byway projects in 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

To see a list and brief description of these projects, click here.

Eighty Organizations Call for Forum to Address NPS Issues

Washington, D.C. – More than 80 organizations recently wrote to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior calling for an inquiry into why the national park system is failing to provide the American public with the appropriate level of visitation to meet the nation’s mental, physical and spiritual needs. The organizations represent millions of outdoor recreation enthusiasts and segments of the recreation industry with sales exceeding $100 billion annually.

The letter notes that the national park system was created to provide enjoyment in the form of recreation and education. The U.S. system has inspired the creation of park systems around the world and has continued to grow in area in the U.S., now consisting of nearly 400 units covering more than 85 million acres. Yet, as the letter points out, despite this growth in size and a 25% increase in the U.S. population over two decades, and despite increased awareness of the value of parks in providing Americans with safe and enjoyable opportunities for physical activity, park visits have declined.

ARC Statement on the Release of the National Park Service Management Policies

Washington, DC - The National Park Service Management Policies are an important means to provide guidance to agency officials in the field. We reviewed and offered written suggestions to Fall 2005 and June 2006 drafts of this document. We know that our comments have been reviewed by the agency and we anticipate that the final document will incorporate consideration of our views. Many of the media reports on the development of this document have been inaccurate, both regarding our goals and our view on the document as a total package.

Our goal has never been to use the Management Policies document to increase specific activities or lessen conservation of park natural and cultural resources. Those are the values sought by visitors to our park units. Our goal remains that visitors receive memorable experiences that deliver mental, physical and spiritual benefits from our national park system, and that the diversity of that system be recognized and continued. Of the 270 million visits to the system annually, just 23% are to units like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, which are national parks. National recreation areas, national seashores, national parkways and other units are also prized, but offer a variety of opportunities – including active recreation. This is appropriate and should continue.