American Recreation Coalition

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.

Route 66 Scenic Byway Travelers Go Geocaching

ROUTE 66 -- Gearing up for Route 66's 80th anniversary, the Automobile Club of Southern California is hiding 12 caches for travelers to find at a variety of locations along Route 66, a National Scenic Byway, as part of a geocaching treasure hunt.

Geocaching, a combination of "geo" for geography and "caching" for hiding a cache, is a 5-year-old high-tech scavenger hunt using handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) units. The units are used to hide and track down "geocaches," containers filled with goodies and sometimes valuable objects. In the geocaching world, hunting and finding the location of the containers at scenic sites also count as prizes.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy at 25: A Partnership Success Story

This August marks the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s 25th year of operation, and they are excited to celebrate a quarter century of supporting the national parklands at the Golden Gate through partnerships and volunteerism. Over this time, the organization has raised more than $100 million in park aid - more than any other nonprofit park association has provided to a national park in the U.S., according to the Association of Partners for Public Lands.

Among their achievements are transforming 100 acres of asphalt into a spectacular shoreline park at Crissy Field; serving more than 15 million visitors with the Alcatraz audio tour; growing 1 million native plants for restoration projects; enlisting 150,000 volunteers who have provided 4 million hours of volunteer time; producing more than 600 books, maps, guides and interpretive products; and building 4 new visitor centers.

ARC Outlines Position on June 2006 NPS Draft Management Policies

There has been a remarkable amount of attention to – and misinformation regarding – the "final draft" of the National Park Service Management Policies issued in June 2006. Hearings have been held in both the House and the Senate and the draft has been the focus of dozens of articles in newspapers large and small.

Many ARC members are concerned about the dramatic changes in the "final draft" versus the fall 2005 proposal issued for comments by the National Park Service. Although the Management Policies do not alter laws or regulations, the document does establish a tone for decision making by the superintendents overseeing 390 units and providing some 270 million experiences annually. Often forgotten is the diversity of these units – from Wilderness parks in Alaska to urban playgrounds in Washington, New York and San Francisco.

Secretary Kempthorne Visits Country Coach Plant

(Junction City, Oregon) - Country Coach, Inc. (CCI), a highline motorcoach manufacturer celebrating 33 years in the recreation vehicle industry, hosted a visit from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on July 13. He visited with Company President Jay Howard, and joined in an extensive tour of the process of building and testing a luxury diesel motorcoach.