News Releases

A Great Start for National Get Outdoors Day

The National Get Outdoors Day (NGOD) preview event treated children and their families from the Washington, D.C. metro area to a day of free, healthy outdoor fun. The Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Snyder hosted the Saturday, May 31st event and more than a dozen national and regional organizations partnered to provide diverse outdoor activities and information on where to get outdoors and how to take care of public lands and waters. The event also served as a pilot for more than 45 sites across the nation where official National Get Outdoors Day events will occur on June 14th, helping America’s kids get off the couch, away from computers and involved in healthy and active outdoor adventures.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne Named as 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award Recipient

Washington, D.C. – The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, has been selected by a distinguished panel of more than 100 recreation and conservation community leaders across the nation to be honored as the recipient of the 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. Since 1989, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has presented this prestigious award to an individual whose “personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America.” America’s recreation community leaders recognized Secretary Kempthorne’s efforts as enhancing the experience of millions in the Great Outdoors today and long into the future.

Secretary Kempthorne was a recreation champion during his service in the U.S. Senate where he led successful efforts to create a sustainable funding source for building and maintaining trails and promoted balance between resource protection and outdoor fun. The award also recognizes the Secretary’s championship of recreation programs during his two terms as Governor of Idaho and his remarkable leadership as the nation’s Secretary of the Interior. In addition to tangible successes in park funding and his national leadership of efforts to increase outdoor activities by American youth, Secretary Kempthorne has brought about fundamental changes in the relationships among national interests in the environmental, conservation and recreation arenas. The new cooperation and conversation will have a lasting benefit for the shared legacy of parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. The recreation community also applauds the Secretary’s support for the Take Pride in America program and its messages of volunteerism and responsible use of the outdoors.

The Role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Recreation

The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) was delighted to welcome Mike Ensch, Chief of Operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Directorate of Civil Works, as the special guest for the May 2008 Recreation Exchange. Mr. Ensch focused his remarks on the factors impacting the Corps’ ability to continue offering outstanding recreation experiences. The USACE manages over 460 lakes, mostly in eastern urban areas, said Mr. Ensch. “We have a tremendous number of visitors,” remarked Mr. Ensch. Currently, the Corps manages 56,000 miles of shoreline and hosts nearly 400 million recreation visits annually.

Mr. Ensch addressed the intense competition for recreation resource funding. “With the President’s agenda to balance the budget by 2012, support the War on Terror and now provide economic stimulus, where will the funding for our recreation operations and infrastructure come from?” he asked. Mr. Ensch predicted that the recent increase in gas prices will create an “interesting difficulty for us,” as families put off cross-country trips and stay closer to home, increasing the visitation to the Corps’ near-urban projects.

American Recreation Coalition’s Podcast Project Selected As National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project

April 25, 2008 - (Washington, D.C.) Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary Bomar, a potent group of Members of Congress and a large group of park supporters to announce 110 national park projects and programs, funded by private and public funds, under President Bush’s National Park Centennial Challenge Initiative. For 2008, Congress appropriated $24.6 million for the Centennial Challenge Fund and the private sector responded with nearly $27 million in matching contributions, totaling $51 million for the projects announced on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

National Get Outdoors Day Preview Announced

A preview of the first-ever National Get Outdoors Day will be held in the Washington, D.C. suburbs on May 31, two weeks before events will be held across the nation to help all Americans – and especially American families with children – discover opportunities for healthy fun. The preview will be hosted by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America at Camp William B. Snyder with the involvement of dozens of national and regional organizations.

National Get Outdoors Day, which promotes the fun and value of time outdoors, is a signature event of “Great Outdoors Month,” the designation given annually to June by the White House and governors across the United States. For the last two decades, Americans have turned indoors and to less physically active leisure pursuits. Visits to national parks and most other public recreation sites have declined and obesity has increased rapidly among the American people, with significant health consequences, including projections of life expectancy declines of 2-5 years for today’s youth. The USDA Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition have each pledged $100,000 to the inaugural National Get Outdoors Day in an effort to reconnect children and nature and to reverse these dangerous trends.

National Park Service Deputy Director Lindi L. Harvey Addresses the Centennial Initiative and Youth Outreach Efforts

Lindi L. Harvey, National Park Service Deputy Director, spoke to the April 2008 Recreation Exchange. Deputy Director Harvey focused her remarks on the National Park Service Centennial Initiative and her agency’s efforts to reconnect today’s youth to the parks. Ms. Harvey applauded the Recreation Exchange participants’ partnerships with the National Park Service and called on the group to further lend their expertise in moving forward the Centennial legislation and supporting youth-outreach projects.

Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Tevi Troy Promotes Good Health Through the Great Outdoors

Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tevi Troy was the guest at the March Recreation Exchange, a special session held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Park Hospitality Association. Dr. Troy opened his remarks by recognizing that, while science and medical advancements allow people the opportunity to be among the healthiest who ever lived, “good health care is not up to others. Health care starts with self care.” Dr. Troy said that far too many people are not making the effort to take care of themselves, and as a result, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as major killers. “Largely preventable chronic diseases cause seven in 10 deaths and consume three out of four dollars spent on healthcare,” he said.

National Get Outdoors Day Launches: Seeking 100 Sites and Diverse Partnerships

Washington, D.C. (February 28, 2008) Participants from dozens of federal agencies and non-profit organizations and the recreation industry gathered in Washington to launch National Get Outdoors Day, a new annual event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun. On June 14, 2008, and each June thereafter, these partners will offer sites for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.

Outdoor Recreation Village Unites Many to Get Kids Off Couches and Into the Great Outdoors

Washington, DC (February 12, 2008) More than 40 organizations formed a unique team of outdoor advocates to help tens of thousands of visitors to Glendale, Arizona, drawn by Super Bowl XLII, discover healthy fun in the Great Outdoors. For four days, the organizations produced the first-ever Outdoor Recreation Village at one of the world’s top media events and used the Village as a platform to announce new initiatives to connect all Americans, and especially American youth, to the nation’s wonderful array of parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters.