American Recreation Coalition

National Park Service Concession Program

The National Park Service administers over 600 concession contracts that ensure park visitors have access to high quality commercial visitor services at reasonable prices. Concessioners provided lodging, food services, gifts and souvenirs, equipment rentals, transportation and other visitor services to 280 million visitors to the National Park System last year - employing 25,000 hospitality workers in peak seasons and generating $840 million in gross revenues. Concessioners contributed $43.8 million to the Federal government in franchise fees and facility improvement accounts in 2006 and invest millions annually in capital improvements to park facilities. By welcoming the private sector as a partner in park operations, the National Park Service broadens the economic base of the region in general and the communities surrounding the parks in particular. For more information, click here.

National Scenic Byways Program

More than four hundred byways community leaders will gather in Baltimore on May 20-23 for the 2007 National Scenic Byways Conference. At 15 years old, the National Scenic Byways Program has a solid record of achievement. The America’s Byways collection now includes 126 federally-designated Byways and All-American Roads - 23,762 miles of roads that tell America’s most special stories. Byways projects have been supported by U.S. Department of Transportation grants since 1992 - 2,100 grassroots, competitively-selected projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico - with a Federal investment of $275 million leveraged by millions more in state and private funding. FY 2007 grants totaling $35 million will be announced in late summer 2007 and some $40 million will be awarded in FY 2008. The next round of byway designations is likely to occur in 2008. For more information on America's Byways, click here.

California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights

The California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism adopted the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights for the purpose of recommending a fundamental list of ten experiences that every child in California would benefit from before entering high school. The activities include fishing, swimming and hiking, among other outdoor recreation activities. Citing the documented benefits of these activities on the health and well being of children, the Roundtable has asked Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue an Executive Order adopting the Outdoor Bill of Rights as the guideline for parents, guardians, parks, communities, private enterprises and all state, county and local agencies for encouraging every child living in California to experience each of the activities.

For more information and a link to the California Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, click here.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails Seeks Nominations for 2007 Achievement Awards

Washington, DC (March 27, 2007) - The Coalition for Recreational Trails, a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations, is pleased to announce its 2007 achievement awards to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the national Recreational Trails Program (RTP). The awards will be presented in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 2007 during Great Outdoors Week.

USDA’s Mark Rey Foresees Passage of 2007 Farm Bill, Expansion of Forest Service Recreation Site Facility Master Plan

Washington, DC (March 26, 2007) - Mark Rey, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, spoke at the March Recreation Exchange. He focused on the 2007 Farm Bill, calling it “the single most important piece of conservation legislation to be considered by the 110th Congress.” House and Senate bills based on the Administration’s January proposal will be introduced soon and Mr. Rey believes a 2007 Farm Bill will be enacted by this Congress because of support across the political spectrum.

National Park Service 2006 Public Use Statistics Released - Downward Trend in Recreation Visits Continues

(Washington, DC) - The National Park Service (NPS) reports that units of the National Park System received 272.6 million recreation visits in 2006, representing an overall 0.3% decline, or 0.9 million fewer visits than in 2005. This continues a downward trend which began after 1999 when visitorship peaked at 287.1 million recreation visits, according to Tom Wade of the NPS Public Use Statistics Office.

The Alaska Region experienced the sixth year in a row with an increase in recreation visits (4.5%). The Southeast also saw a modest increase of 1.5%. The National Capital Region was the only other region showing an increase in recreation visitorship (2.0%), but the NPS attributes this to a first-time counting of 2.2 million participants in the Cherry Blossom Festival.

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.