Great Outdoors Week 2005 Report

Great Outdoors Week 2005

Washington, D.C. - Great Outdoors Week 2005 brought together hundreds of leaders from the outdoor recreation community for meetings, discussion and celebrations of significant achievements. Strengthening the link between outdoor recreation and health was central to the week’s proceedings. The need for a comprehensive look at recreation policies and programs was stressed to better recreation not only now but also the foreseeable future. “Important progress has occurred, and needs to continue in crafting a new blueprint for recreation in the 21st century and in emphasizing the ties between key societal issues and recreation,” said American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall.

Great Outdoors Week is the highlight of Great Outdoors Month, a month-long celebration of outdoor recreation, which also features events such as National Trails Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, and National Clean Beaches Week. For the second consecutive year, Great Outdoors Month was designated by a Presidential Proclamation extolling the virtues of outdoor recreation and volunteerism. President George W. Bush noted that “outdoor recreation provides an opportunity to enjoy the splendor of our Nation’s remarkable natural treasures and reminds us of our responsibility to be good stewards of the environment.” The full proclamation is attached.

The week opened with the “Outdoor Recreation: It’s Part of the Cure” reception celebrating the healthy benefits of outdoor recreation. The reception’s theme originated with discussions by public and private sector leaders at the Partners Outdoors 2005 meeting in February. Participants at that meeting concluded that more must be done to emphasize the role outdoor recreation can play in improving the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all Americans, including a role in battling obesity. Some 300 recreation leaders gathered at the Reserve Officers Association for the reception, co-hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA). The reception featured members of the National Park Advisory Board’s Committee on Health and Recreation.

The following day included two celebrations. On Capitol Hill, the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) gathered to honor significant program and project achievements by trail interests nationwide. Nine trail programs and projects funded by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) were presented with awards. RTP is administered by the Federal Highway Administration and state agencies but nurtures broad trail partnerships. Representatives from the award-winning trail groups were on hand to accept their awards from the CRT Co-Chairs, ARC President Derrick Crandall and Marianne Fowler, Senior Vice President of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

On Tuesday evening, recreation leaders gathered to honor one of their own, as Derrick Crandall was presented the 17th Annual Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award for nearly three decades of service, leadership and advocacy on behalf of the recreation community. On a rooftop overlooking the White House, attendees heard Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and RVIA President and ARC Chairman Dave Humphreys praise the creativity and the commitment that Mr. Crandall has provided to the cause of outdoor recreation. In addition to the traditional award of a Steuben Waterbird, Mr. Crandall was given a book of letters from industry leaders, government officials and friends congratulating him on the award. Highlighting the book were letters from both former President George H.W. Bush and current President George W. Bush.

Early Wednesday, recreation community representatives gathered at the U.S. Department of the Interior to discuss the future of the America the Beautiful Pass and Recreation Resource Advisory Committees, both the result of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act enacted in December 2004. Following this session, attention turned to a recreation policy forum examining the use of technology to enhance recreation experiences. Among the items highlighted were: electronic Pocket Rangers, currently being developed by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and various partners to allow visitors to access information about the park and its surroundings, and web-based interactive maps, being developed by the USDA Forest Service, which will allow visitors to national forests to locate areas and facilities best able to meet their recreation needs. Both initiatives received the first of ARC’s new Beacon Awards, which highlight the use of technology to benefit visitors and enhance recreation management.

At noon on Wednesday, the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange was held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Roundtable’s special guest was Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns who spoke about initiatives within the department, including the new Food Pyramid, which for the first time includes physical activity in its formula for a healthy lifestyle, and the centennial of the Forest Service, one of the nation’s primary recreation providers. Secretary Johanns was accompanied by Under Secretary Mark Rey. The event also provided an opportunity to honor those key federal employees who have made extraordinary contributions to improve outdoor recreation in America. ARC’s Legends awards were presented to representatives of seven Federal agencies that provide and support outdoor recreation on the public lands. The awards were presented by top agency officials.

The Take Pride in America Partners Council assembled later that day at the Travel Industry Association to discuss the future of Take Pride In America (TPIA). Led by TPIA Executive Director Marti Allbright and TPIA Council Chair Derrick Crandall, the Council’s meeting showcased video from a recent TPIA event featuring National Spokesman Clint Eastwood in Carmel, California. This footage will be turned into a series of 19 public service announcements (PSA’s) of varying lengths that will appear nationwide beginning in July. The group was encouraged to come up with innovative forums in which these PSA’s and other TPIA information could be featured to promote TPIA. The Council also reviewed TPIA’s 2005 activities and future plans.

The week concluded with a Thursday morning legislative briefing on recreation issues, including the National Outdoor Recreation Policy Act (NORPA), the surface transportation re-authorization legislation currently in conference on Capitol Hill, and the FY06 appropriations legislation for Interior and related agencies. Recreation community leaders were briefed on the opportunities offered by NORPA to reform and strengthen federal recreation programs. Also discussed were possible outcomes for key programs contained in the transportation bill, including Scenic Byways, Wallop-Breaux, Transportation Enhancements, public land highways and the Recreational Trails Program.

[Click Here] For more photos from Great Outdoors Week.

ARC, the national voice for America’s recreation community, is a nonprofit federation of more than 100 organizations representing enthusiasts, private-sector providers of recreation opportunities, and producers of recreation equipment. ARC coordinates Great Outdoors Week each June.