Recreation Exchange

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack discusses AGO Initiative, praises outdoor recreation leaders at June Recreation Exchange

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the special guest at the June 2010 Recreation Exchange, hosted by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). Top federal agency representatives and recreation enthusiasts gathered on Agriculture’s Whitten Patio to hear the Secretary’s remarks about the Obama Administration’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative and for the presentation of ARC’s 2010 Legends Awards.

Harris Sherman, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, introduced the Secretary and praised his key role in implementing President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Mr. Sherman recognized the importance of outdoor recreation, particularly its ability to connect people to the environment, its contribution to the health of Americans, and its economic importance. He also noted that the upcoming National Get Outdoors Day (GO-Day) – which introduces children and families, many of them first-time public land users, to fun outdoor activities and outdoor recreation skills – was a prime example of the great work that can be accomplished through partnerships between land management agencies and non-governmental organizations, and he cited GO-Day as a wonderful way to connect people to their local national forests.

Will Shafroth at April 2010 Recreation Exchange

DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary Will Shafroth responds to questions at Recreation Exchange

Mickey Fearn promotes new era of outreach and communication for National Park Service

Mickey Fearn, The National Park Service’s (NPS) Deputy Director for Communications and Community Assistance, was the guest speaker at the March 2010 Recreation Exchange hosted by the American Recreation Coalition. Mr. Fearn has responsibility for NPS Communications, Public Affairs, Strategic Planning, Tribal Relations, International Affairs, Partnerships, Legislative and Congressional Affairs, Policy, State and Local Assistance Programs and Information Technology. His updated title and expanded role emphasize a new focus at NPS on outreach and communications efforts, especially to groups currently underrepresented among park visitors.

Prior to coming to NPS, Mr. Fearn played key roles in the Seattle city government. His accomplishments included creation of a Seattle Parks and Recreation Summer Youth Program connecting urban youth to the natural world while promoting personal responsibility and healthy lifestyles. In Seattle, he served as Manager of the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative, Director of the City's Innovation Project, and Director of Seattle's Neighborhood Leadership Program. Mr. Fearn also served as a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commissioner for 12 years. Prior to his time in Seattle, he worked for the Governor of California, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Mayor of Oakland, California.

March 2010 Recreation Exchange

NPS Deputy Director Mickey Fearn addresses March 2010 Recreation Exchange

Gina McCarthy connects clean air, children and outdoor recreation at September Recreation Exchange

Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was the guest speaker at the September 2009 Recreation Exchange hosted by the American Recreation Coalition. In her role at EPA, Ms. McCarthy is a leading national advocate for win-win strategies to confront climate change and strengthen the nation's green economy, and she plays an instrumental role in ensuring that EPA leads the way in addressing the nation's most urgent environmental priorities.

Ms. McCarthy expressed a commitment to infusing her love of the great outdoors into her new post at EPA. She credits her passion for environmental protection to long hours spent playing outdoors, both as a child and as an adult. “I’ve never stopped playing and I never will!” she proudly proclaimed.

September 2009 Recreation Exchange

Gina McCarthy addresses Recreation Exchange in front of Great Outdoors Month proclamations

Jay Jensen presents vision for the Forest Service at August Recreation Exchange

Jay Jensen, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the guest speaker at the August 2009 Recreation Exchange hosted by the American Recreation Coalition. In this position, Mr. Jensen has policy responsibility for the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to more than 10 million family-forest landowners. The Natural Resources and Environment mission area includes the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners in conserving, maintaining and improving their natural resources.

Mr. Jensen spoke about Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's national vision for America's forests, the Forest Service's use of economic stimulus funds, the importance of concessioners and partnerships to the mission of the Forest Service and more. He told the group that Secretary Vilsack is committed to reconnecting the American public to the land, and is leading the Department of Agriculture with the vision "USDA: Every day, every way." The Secretary plans to reconnect people to the land through the frames of climate and water. People today, particularly children, largely lack an understanding of where their food and water originate, putting little thought into the source of their food other than the grocery store. It is vital to reconnect people to their public lands, Mr. Jensen said. "The key way to reconnect people to their lands is through recreation, and you all are a powerful part of this platform," Mr. Jensen told the group. He touted the importance of urban forests, especially those near city centers, noting that 75% of visitors to national forests travel less than 100 miles to the forests they visit. “These urban forests are the gateways to connecting people to the land,” he said.

2009 August Recreation Exchange

Jay Jensen with Glen Schorr of the US Orienteering Federation

ARC Executive Committee with Congressman Joe Donnelly

L to R: Richard Coon, President, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; Congressman Donnelly; Thom Dammrich, President, National Marine Manufacturers Association; Mike Molino, President, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association

Congressman Donnelly Tells Recreation Industry Help Is on the Way

U.S. Representative Joe Donnelly (D-IN) was the special guest at the American Recreation Coalition’s February Recreation Exchange. The session allowed recreation community leaders to express appreciation for the Congressman’s vigorous efforts to overcome challenges facing America’s recreation industry. Mr. Donnelly was actively involved in the recent U.S. Treasury announcement of actions to improve consumer loan availability, and specifically provide RV loans, through a $1 trillion program known as TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility). He also actively participated in Congressional negotiations on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provided a special federal tax deduction for state sales tax paid on motorhomes and motorcycles in addition to cars, and also expanded tax code provisions allowing many small businesses to apply current losses to the tax returns of past years, when they were profitable – a provision called NOL (Net Operating Loss) carryback.

Mr. Donnelly acknowledged the appreciation and told the group that, as a life-long outdoor recreation enthusiast, he is proud to assist the industry that “makes dreams come true for American families.”