Recreation Forums Yield Success Stories, Ideas and Commitments to Action

Washington, D.C. (March 26, 2007) - With five regional Recreation Forums completed and the final national Forum in its final planning stage, American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall declared the Forums initiative a success. Some 1,000 persons have participated in the Forums and a valuable collection of successes and ideas has been gathered.

Forums have been held in Golden, Colorado, at the American Mountaineering Center, in Marietta, Georgia, at the Cobb County senior services complex, in Arcadia, California, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, in Troutdale, Oregon, in the Columbia River Gorge, and in Chicago, Illinois at the South Shore Cultural Center. A supplementary session was held in Reno, Nevada, in conjunction with a meeting of the National Forest Recreation Association.

Participants in the Forums have included federal officials, with national and regional leaders of the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies taking part. A broad range of local and state officials also participated – including directors of state Departments of Natural Resources, state park and state tourism directors – as well as nonprofit organization leaders from both national and local organizations, recreation business executives, healthcare leaders and others. The Forums have gained local media interest and, according to Crandall, are very likely to result in continued regional meetings and discussions regarding issues and opportunities to enhance recreational opportunities.

“Each of the sessions held to date has been marked by overflowing enthusiasm and a consensus conviction that recreation can and will play a key role in improving the quality of life in America for generations to come,” said Crandall. “A wide range of issues has been raised,” he continued. “We have heard thoughtful analysis of ways to challenge barriers to access to recreation opportunities on public lands and waters – from the use of new communications channels to better integration of transportation planning. We have seen examples of local governments integrating recreation programs into a wider range of community support efforts, including health and education. We have heard optimism about outdoor-loving Boomers seeking part-time positions with public land agencies to provide interpretive services. And we have seen special passion about efforts to connect America’s youth to the Great Outdoors.” Complete reports on the five regional Forums will be available on the internet at www.recreationforums.info and the ideas offered at the Forums will be open for comment by the public.

A national recreation Forum will be held in Washington, DC on April 30. The national Forum will begin with topical sessions in the morning and conclude with an afternoon plenary session for reports on the regional meetings and the morning discussions, as well as comments by a wide range of national organizations and interests.

A report on the national Recreation Forum will be delivered to participants and to Congress and the Administration in conjunction with a special Washington event co-hosted by the American Recreation Coalition and the National Forest Foundation – the two conveners of the Forums. At that session, author Richard Louv will describe his work, beginning with his book Last Child in the Woods. The event will also highlight initiatives by the Forest Service and its partners, including the first round of grants under the “More Kids in the Woods” challenge grant program and findings from the agency’s pilot research effort, “Listening to Kids about the Woods.”

The Recreation Forums are designed to document the importance of recreation to societal goals ranging from improved physical, mental and spiritual health and educational systems to local and regional economic vitality and deterrence of crime. Other goals are to identify key challenges to meeting the recreation needs of the nation and to document successful local and regional programs which deserve consideration for expansion and replication.

For more about plans for the national Recreation Forum and directions for registering to participate, click here.

To see images of the Chicago Forum, click here.

To see images of the Golden Forum, click here.

To see images of the Atlanta Forum, click here.

To see images of the Los Angeles Forum, click here.

To see images of the Portland Forum, click here.