American Recreation Coalition

Secretary Kempthorne and NPS Director Bomar to Hold National Listening Sessions

Washington, DC – On March 13, 2007, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Service Director Mary Bomar will launch a series of listening sessions on President Bush’s proposed National Park Centennial Initiative.

The first session will be in the area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During the next three weeks, more than 12 sessions will be held around the nation on the President’s proposal to provide up to $3 billion of new public and private investment to improve and expand national park conservation, preservation and visitor service programs by the National Park Service’s 100th birthday in 2016.

19th Annual Coleman Award Winner To Be Chosen by National Panel of Recreation and Conservation Leaders

Washington, DC (March 8, 2007) - The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) announced today that the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award – the recreation community’s most prestigious award – will be given for the 19th time at a ceremony during Great Outdoors Week on June 12, 2007. Every year since 1989, the American Recreation Coalition has honored an individual whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America. The award was established in memory of Sheldon Coleman (1901-1988), longtime Chairman of The Coleman Company and a visionary champion of outdoor recreation and conservation.

Recreation Leaders Share Their Vision for Boosting the Impact of the Centennial Initiative with Secretary Kempthorne

Washington, DC (March 7, 2007) - A group of outdoor recreation leaders met today with Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, and Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to share their ideas for companion efforts that could significantly expand the impact and benefits of the President’s Centennial Initiative for the National Parks.

Recreation leaders participating included Gary Kiedaisch of The Coleman Company, Dennis Szefel and Kevin Kelly of the Delaware North Companies, Rex Maughan and John Schoppmann of Forever Resorts, Kym Murphy of The Walt Disney Company and Derrick Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition. Melissa Johnson of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Richard Barton of the Maryland Park Service, Gina McCarthy of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and John Doyle of Ruder Finn Inc. also participated.

Richard Louv Brings "Children and Nature" Message to Congress

Washington, DC (March 1, 2007) – Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, testified before the United States House of Representatives Interior and Environmental Subcommittee yesterday. He described an emerging children and nature movement which has taken shape since his book brought attention to what Mr. Louv calls ”nature deficit disorder.”

Mr. Louv urged federal and state parks systems to replicate Connecticut’s No Child Left Inside program “which has successfully repopulated that state’s parks with families.” He advocated for collaborations between the Departments of Interior, Education, Agriculture and Health and Human Services to help “plant the seeds of nature and rural cultures in the next generation" and to address the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.

BLM's New Acting Director James Hughes Addresses Recreation Exchange

James M. Hughes, Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, was the special guest at ARC’s February Recreation Exchange. In his first speech since taking this new position, Mr. Hughes talked about challenges and new initiatives for BLM’s recreation program. For a summary of his remarks, click here. For an image, click here.

Great Outdoors Week 2007: June 11-15

Washington, D.C. (February 9, 2007) - Great Outdoors Week 2007, June 11 -15, will highlight efforts underway to enhance outdoor recreation for all Americans in the 21st century. Topics to be addressed in a series of forums throughout the week include: improving health through recreation; children and the outdoors; declining visitorship and access to public land; public-private partnerships; ensuring strong recreational trails and scenic byways programs, and more.

Great Outdoors Week is coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and includes events hosted by more than a dozen federal agencies and national organizations. This year an exciting new effort to link National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (May) with Great Outdoors Month (June) will focus on the enormous potential of the Great Outdoors to be the country’s “outdoor physical fitness center” for combating both childhood and adult obesity. This is a timely topic for Great Outdoors Week. Obesity, particularly childhood obesity, is the focus of a new national media campaign recently announced by President and Mrs. Bush. The campaign will enlist animated movie favorite Shrek to encourage children to eat better and get regular outdoor exercise.

ARC Takes Part In President's Roundtable on the National Parks Centennial Challenge

Luray, Virginia (February 7, 2007) - President George W. Bush presided over a Roundtable on the National Parks Centennial Initiative held today in the Shenandoah National Park. Attending were Mrs. Bush, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Director Mary Bomar, as well as representatives of the recreation and conservation communities. ARC’s Derrick Crandall was one of those invited to speak at the almost two-hour meeting.

In his opening remarks, the President said “today we're going to talk about an initiative called the National Parks Centennial Initiative. And I'm looking forward to hearing from our fellow citizens about ways to make sure this initiative fully honors the Park System.” Recognizing the importance of partnerships for the success of the challenge, he remarked that “Dirk and I and others in this administration have come up with what we call the National Parks Centennial Initiative. It's a bold program that calls upon the government to do its part, as well as our citizens to become invested in a campaign to really enhance the parks.”

President Bush Asked to Proclaim June "Great Outdoors Month 2007"

Washington, D.C. (February 5, 2007) - President George W. Bush was asked last week to issue a proclamation designating June 2007 “Great Outdoors Month” for the fourth time. Making the request were the American Recreation Coalition, The Conservation Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Recreation and Park Association, representing more than 60 supporting organizations, and Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.

A June proclamation is suggested because it is the first month of active summer recreation activities, as well as a month with high visitation to America’s public lands. Dozens of events held nationally during this month will highlight the link between participation in outdoor recreation and improved health, especially decreased obesity.

President Bush: Fight Childhood Obesity in the Great Outdoors

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2007) - Yesterday, the President and Mrs. Bush praised the importance of outdoor recreation in combating the epidemic of childhood obesity in the U.S. Meeting at the White House with leaders from the media, entertainment, food and beverage and advertising sectors, Mr. Bush encouraged them to join the federal government’s efforts to combat childhood obesity through their products and advertising.

“One way for this nation to cope with the issue of obesity is to get people outside - whether it be through sports or hiking or conservation. So we’ll encourage them to do that, encourage parents to encourage their children to participate in the great outdoors,”

Accomplishments of The National Scenic Byways Program Marked in Washington

Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2006)- The 15th Anniversary of the National Scenic Byways Program was marked by top public and private sector leaders in Washington, DC on December 11, 2006. Called “A Celebration and A Look Ahead,” the celebration included an afternoon symposium at the historic Stephen Decatur House featuring byways pioneers and representatives of organizations that support and sustain the National Scenic Byways Program today.

The evening portion of the celebration was held in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s hearing room in the Rayburn Office Building and drew Congressional champions, Department of Transportation officials past and present and national Scenic Byways supporters. Thirteen key byways advocates were presented first-ever “Byways Pioneer Awards.”

Common themes emerged in a day of both looking back and moving forward: