American Recreation Coalition Announces 2006 Beacon Awards

Washington, D.C. - Outstanding efforts by five federal agencies and partners in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management will be recognized with the 2006 Beacon Awards at the opening ceremony of Great Outdoors Week. Seven Beacon Awards will be presented on Monday, June 12 at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Winners of the second annual Beacon Award are:

National Capital Region of the National Park Service: NCR is recognized for its use of webcams and a local area radio system to improve visitor enjoyment of special events, including the Cherry Blossom Festival, as well as general use of NPS sites in the Nation's Capital. Both systems were integrated with general media information efforts, helping to reach many thousands of visitors with valuable information to aid in trip planning.

Phil Zichterman, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National recreation Area: He is recognized for his innovative "virtual ranger" tour of the Black Canyon as well as the distance learning program "Journeys to Wilderness Canyons," for middle school students around the globe.

Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office and Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado: BLM Colorado and VOC have created and now manage a sophisticated partnership website to recruit, manage and serve public lands volunteers -- V Outdoors.

Bureau of Land Management New Mexico State Office and Public Lands Interpretive Association: BLM New Mexico State Office and the Public Lands Interpretive Association have created a seamless online information center for information about recreation on public lands in the west -- offering maps and concierge service, guide books and passes and more.

Natural Resources Management Gateway Project, US Army Corps of Engineers: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has developed a sophisticated online resource for employees, partners and the general public to improve natural resource management, including recreation functions. The site integrates budgeting, customer service monitoring, asset management and technical assistance information -- all readily accessible via the Internet.

Jaime Schmidt, National Trail Information Coordinator, USDA Forest Service: Jaime is pioneering efforts to upgrade trail information on the national forests through use of E-Tracs, a state-of-the-art mobile data recorder, and has also applied new technologies to interpretive efforts on the Chugach National Forest, especially regarding the Iditarod national Historic Trail.

Douglas Vandegraft, Chief Cartographer, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Doug Vandegraft led efforts to create a new digital map of the National Wildlife Refuge System which, in turn, has supported his efforts to link the refuge system with other key public systems of roads and trails, a key step toward increasing the awareness and accessibility of refuges to the American public.

The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) initiated the Beacon Awards during Great Outdoors Week 2005. The first two awards recognized the innovative use of technology in visitor services and recreation management. The Beacon Awards implement a recommendation of the Partners Outdoors 2005 session, where participants felt that a new awards program, jointly administered by ARC and federal agencies hosting more than a billion recreation visits annually, would encourage experimentation with and use of new technologies and alternative communications channels to enhance visitor experiences and improve recreation program management. Recreation-related federal agencies annually nominate outstanding initiatives where new technologies provide improved, cost-effective solutions to recreation program needs. Award criteria include:

  • Innovation in either the use of technology for visitor services or the use of technology for recreation management;
  • Partnerships with for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the private sector;
  • Efforts to share news of creative solutions within the agency; and
  • Community support for the work of this initiative, as reflected in awards, community boards and committees, etc.

The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) is a Washington-based, nonprofit federation formed in 1979. Since its inception, ARC has sought to catalyze public/private partnerships to enhance and protect outdoor recreation. Its membership consists of more than 100 organizations, including national and regional associations and corporations that represent a major share of the $400 billion a year recreation/leisure industry and enthusiast groups representing millions of recreationists. ARC provides a unified voice for recreation interests to ensure their full and active participation in the government policy making that is shaping present and future outdoor recreation resources, facilities and opportunities. ARC conducts research on a regular basis, organizes and conducts national conferences and meetings and disseminates information regarding recreational needs and initiatives through a variety of media, including its Web site, http://www.funoutdoors.com.