News Releases

President Obama Proclaims June as Great Outdoors Month, Governors Join In

June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President Barack Obama and nearly all of America’s governors. The proclamations were suggested by a coalition of dozens of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinate special events held during June, including National Trails Day®, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day and the Great American Backyard Campout.

President Obama’s proclamation states, “The United States is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty. From remote forests to urban parks, these spaces have inspired visitors for generations.” It goes on to say, “Exploring the great outdoors can also help improve one's health. These spaces provide countless venues for walking, hiking, running, swimming, and boating, among other activities. Americans can combine the enjoyment of being outside with the exercise we all need to stay healthy.”

National Get Outdoors Day 2009 Plans Announced

Washington, D.C. (January 15, 2009) A consortium of federal agencies and nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry today announced details for National Get Outdoors Day 2009, an annual event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun across the nation. On June 13, 2009, participating organizations will offer sites for American families to sample both traditional and new 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, and then invite those taking part in the day to visit specific sites for fun “EChO-Events” for opportunities to hike with rangers, learn to fish, and go mountain biking.

In June 2008, more than 60 National Get Outdoors Day events were held, drawing tens of thousands of youth and their families. The events included climbing walls, chances to have pictures taken with Smokey Bear, introductions to fishing and new activities like geocaching and much more.

New Outdoor Resources Review Group Meets

A diverse collection of recreation and conservation leaders gathered on Capitol Hill for the initial meeting of the new Outdoor Resources Review Group (ORRG), which was hosted by Honorary Co-Chairs Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Organized by Henry Diamond and Pat Noonan, long-time recreation and conservation leaders, the 17-member body will assess changes in recreation, recreation resources and recreation needs and formulate recommendations for the new Administration and the next Congress on whether a third national recreation commission is warranted and what issues would be most timely and productive to be addressed by the commission.

The work of ORRG will be funded by three foundations long associated with conservation and recreation issues, according to Henry Diamond: foundations linked to the Mellon, Packard and Rockefeller families. Staff work for the group will be led by Resources for the Future Senior Fellow Margaret Walls. The group plans three to four additional meetings in 2008 and early 2009.

Partnership Announces Initiative to Connect New Americans to Public Lands

Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2008) The White House Office of USA Freedom Corps, Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force on New Americans, National Park Service and American Recreation Coalition announced the creation of a public-private partnership to connect new citizens to America’s public lands. The initiative – named This Land Is Your Land – will coordinate public and private efforts to engage new Americans in volunteerism on public lands. The initiative also created the New Americans Outreach Task Force, which aims to draw newly naturalized citizens to National Parks and other public lands.

This Land Is Your Land was unveiled on July 7, 2008 at a special naturalization ceremony in Ellis Island’s Great Hall where 20 new citizens from 15 countries took the Oath of Allegiance within sight of the Statue of Liberty. Cokie Roberts, broadcast journalist and member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, led the event and encouraged the new Americans to vote and to volunteer on public lands. She specifically challenged them to volunteer 100 hours to earn the President’s Volunteer Service Award during their first year of citizenship. Alison Young, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of USA Freedom Corps (USAFC), asked the new citizens to answer the President’s 2002 national Call to Service that created USAFC. “It is our hope that through this new partnership, USA Freedom Corps can create an eagerness among new Americans to engage in volunteer opportunities in the great outdoors and to enjoy the grandeur of our National Parks,” said Young.

National Get Outdoors Day Overview

Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the U.S. Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. National Get Outdoors Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to create a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.

June 14, 2008 marked the inaugural National Get Outdoors Day. Over 50 official National Get Outdoors Day sites across the nation from Anacostia Park in Washington, D.C. to the Big Bear Discovery Center in the San Bernardino National Forest welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. Participating partners offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities.

Each National Get Outdoors Day event offered a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, could use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites offered photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. In addition, National Get Outdoors Day events encouraged partners like the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the National Park Service WebRangers to recruit youth to become part of programs and organizations designed to strengthen their connection to the outdoors.

National Get Outdoors Day had tremendous support from partners across the country. They were grateful for the opportunity to combat the sedentary lifestyles that are affecting the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of today’s youth.

The inaugural National Get Outdoors Day (NGOD) accomplishments are impressive:

American Recreation Coalition Announces 2008 Beacon Award Winners

Washington, D.C. - Six 2008 Beacon Awards, representing outstanding efforts in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management, were presented by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) at the opening reception for Great Outdoors Week on Monday, June 9. The awards were presented by ARC Vice Chairman Richard Coon at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

28 State Governors and the President Proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month

June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by President George Bush and more than half of America’s governors. The proclamations were sought by a coalition of dozens of recreation and conservation organizations, many of which coordinate special events held during June, including National Trails Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, National Get Outdoors Day and the Great American Backyard Campout.

President Bush’s proclamation, issued for the fifth year in succession, was released “to honor those who work to keep our natural places beautiful and to celebrate some of our country’s favorite outdoor pastimes.” The President goes on to “call on all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to take time to visit and enjoy the great outdoors.”

ARC Salutes Legends Award Winners

Washington, D.C. — The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) presents its 2008 Legends Awards to seven federal managers in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. The awards will be presented on June 11, 2008 during Great Outdoors Week – ARC’s celebration of the value and importance of outdoor recreation. Initiated by ARC in 1991, the Legends Award program involves seven federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Each agency nominates an individual whose extraordinary personal efforts have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources.

Recipients of the 2008 Legends Awards are Mark Lowans, Bureau of Land Management; Pedro “Pete” Lucero, Bureau of Reclamation; Pete Gonzalez, Federal Highway Administration; Garry Traynham, National Park Service; Brad Keshlear, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bennie Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dennis Krusac, U.S. Forest Service. ARC is honored to present a posthumus Lifetime Achievement Legends Award to John Keys, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, in recognition of his outstanding achievements to support outdoor recreation experiences for families and especially children.

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.