Recreation Leaders Share Their Vision for Boosting the Impact of the Centennial Initiative with Secretary Kempthorne

Washington, DC (March 7, 2007) - A group of outdoor recreation leaders met today with Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, and Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to share their ideas for companion efforts that could significantly expand the impact and benefits of the President’s Centennial Initiative for the National Parks.

Recreation leaders participating included Gary Kiedaisch of The Coleman Company, Dennis Szefel and Kevin Kelly of the Delaware North Companies, Rex Maughan and John Schoppmann of Forever Resorts, Kym Murphy of The Walt Disney Company and Derrick Crandall of the American Recreation Coalition. Melissa Johnson of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Richard Barton of the Maryland Park Service, Gina McCarthy of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and John Doyle of Ruder Finn Inc. also participated.

In the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, the recreation leaders offered examples of creative efforts underway by federal, state and local recreation interests to connect Americans to the outdoors. These initiatives, together with an effective communications and marketing strategy, can increase public awareness about benefits of active time outdoors, they said. The goals of such efforts include: increasing actual participation in outdoor activities; increasing the overall benefits of public lands to the nation and establishing programs and policies that support the environmental and economic sustainability of public lands.

The leaders emphasized the multiple benefits of this expanded effort from improved health, new educational channels, enhanced support for conservation and stewardship today and tomorrow, national unity and pride, and increased resources for agencies managing the federal lands from fees, volunteerism and philanthropy. “We were excited by the Secretary’s receptivity,” said Derrick Crandall. “Our view is that such efforts will add significantly to the value of the Centennial Initiative.”

Under the National Park Centennial Initiative, President Bush has proposed up to $3 billion of new public and private investment in the national parks over the next ten years to prepare the parks for their 100th anniversary in 2016. To see images of the meeting, click here.