American Recreation Coalition

Get Outdoors USA! Award Given to Leading Forest Friends Group

The first Get Outdoors USA! Award was given to the San Bernardino National Forest Association (SBNFA) at its meeting in late November 2007 by Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and coordinator of the new national effort to boost participation in healthy outdoor fun. The award will enable the association to purchase a fleet of canoes and related equipment for environmental-education and water-safety programs at the Big Bear Discovery Center, a unique partnership program of the USDA Forest Service and SBNFA.

"Last Child in the Woods" Meets "More Kids in the Woods"

Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2007) - Author Richard Louv brought his warning that modern societal forces are separating children from nature to a Washington, D.C., gathering of recreation community leaders and applauded a new partnership-based response to that trend led by the USDA Forest Service. The response, “More Kids in the Woods,” is a challenge-grant program initially involving 24 programs across the nation and $1.5 million in Forest Service and non-federal funds.

Louv spoke passionately about the potential repercussions of today’s youth losing a personal connection to the outdoors. According to Louv, “We care for what we know and love.” He told the group that if today’s children don’t have “transformational experiences in the outdoors” during their youth, they are unlikely, as adults, to be engaged in public policy deliberations about our forests and parks and about environmental issues like global warming.

He offered a message of hope, saying that his travels across the United States and Canada have shown him that there is a movement for change. “The problems cannot be overcome with a single, cookie-cutter response,” he warned, and he also cautioned against alarmist rhetoric that hampers a child’s sense of wonder and joy about outdoor experiences.

Transportation Enhancements

The Transportation Enhancements (TE) program funded by SAFETEA-LU is slated to receive roughly 3.5 billion through FY 09 – $625 - $685 million per year. Funding is based on a 10% set-aside of each state’s annual funding under its Surface Transportation Program (STP). The TE program funds a wide variety of transportation-related community projects in 12 project categories including restoration of historic transportation buildings, easement acquisition, construction of welcome centers and transportation-related museums and conversion of abandoned railway corridors to recreation trails. Trails and pedestrian/bicycle facilities have historically counted for about one-half of TE funding, or $300 million per year since its establishment in 1991. Transportation Enhancements are subject to funding rescission notices, of which there were three in FY 2006. Some states have left TE funds intact and others have cut the program heavily.

For a list of eligible activities, click here.

Regional Recreation Forum Reports

For the Arcadia, CA Recreation Forum Summary, click here.

For the Atlanta, GA Recreation Forum Summary, click here.

For the Chicago, IL Recreation Forum Summary, click here.

For the Golden, CO Recreation Forum Summary, click here.

For the Troutdale, OR Recreation Forum Summary, click here.

For the full 2007 Recreation Forums Summary Proceedings, click here.

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.