America the Beautiful: Secretary Kempthorne Champions the Great Outdoors

Louisville, KY (November 27, 2007) U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne was a featured speaker at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s 45th Annual National RV Trade Show. Mr. Kempthorne spoke to a record attendance of 1,200 participants at an early morning kick-off event. A long time RV owner and avid recreationist, Secretary Kempthorne called upon the RV community to lead efforts reconnecting our nation to the great outdoors. “This is a dynamic industry. You have the opportunity to help Americans get outdoors,” said Secretary Kempthorne.

Mr. Kempthorne expressed special concern for our children’s loss of connection to nature. Illnesses due to physical inactivity – type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity – are a growing crisis, he said. Attendees were shocked when the Secretary told them that the U.S. Surgeon General has warned that today’s youth will most likely have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to obesity-linked illnesses. The Secretary pointed out that technology is keeping our kids indoors and sitting on the couch with virtual football games, fishing and other activities. “We have to be just as creative in ways to encourage our kids to get outside, including use of technology,” he told the group.

Secretary Kempthorne urged more Americans to take advantage of the one out of every five acres of land that the Interior Department manages. He reminded the audience that the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the wildlife refuges all have RV campgrounds and other recreation sites. “These are amazing opportunities to see and experience America the beautiful and to be good stewards of the land,” he said.

Secretary Kempthorne addressed further stewardship opportunities offered by the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration in 2016. He explained that the National Park Service is receiving the largest increase in its operating budget in the history of the agency. He shared his enthusiasm for the Centennial Challenge Fund legislation, allowing for private-public partnerships to further benefit our parks. Applause broke out as he announced over $300 million in committed private funding. “With the operating budget, matching funds and private investment, that’s a $3 billion infusion into our national parks over the next decade - that’s awesome!” declared the Secretary.

The RV community received praise from Secretary Kempthorne for its achievements. He called on RV interests to put passion and enthusiasm to work for the cause of connecting Americans to the outdoors, predicting the result would be “amazing.” “You are the stewards to make sure the next generation of Americans understands the outdoors, appreciates it and enjoys it,” he concluded.

The 45th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky covered nearly one million square feet, displaying 1,100 RVs and leading technology and accessories from top RV industry manufacturers and suppliers. The Secretary joined 20,000 attendees on the show floor, touring the latest models, including 25 mpg motor homes, and discussing trends and employment in the industry.

American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall said, “Secretary Kempthorne connected with his audience with a dynamic, personal presentation. His call to action was heard and taken to heart. We are certainly fortunate to have this champion of the outdoors at work in the President’s Cabinet.”