ARC Salutes Legends Award Winners

Washington, D.C. — The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) presents its 2008 Legends Awards to seven federal managers in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. The awards will be presented on June 11, 2008 during Great Outdoors Week – ARC’s celebration of the value and importance of outdoor recreation. Initiated by ARC in 1991, the Legends Award program involves seven federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Each agency nominates an individual whose extraordinary personal efforts have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources.

Recipients of the 2008 Legends Awards are Mark Lowans, Bureau of Land Management; Pedro “Pete” Lucero, Bureau of Reclamation; Pete Gonzalez, Federal Highway Administration; Garry Traynham, National Park Service; Brad Keshlear, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bennie Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Dennis Krusac, U.S. Forest Service. ARC is honored to present a posthumus Lifetime Achievement Legends Award to John Keys, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, in recognition of his outstanding achievements to support outdoor recreation experiences for families and especially children.

Mark Lowans is the Assistant Field Manager for Recreation and Visitor Services in the Bureau of Land Management’s Yuma, Arizona Field Office. He inspires and motivates a young team that continually and successfully produces quality recreation experiences and benefits for senior public land visitors from across North America during the fall and winter, as well as regional visitors of every age during the spring and summer. His active management of the annually diverse and changing recreation demands have resulted in measurable improvements in recreation opportunities for non-traditional visitors. His years of on-the-ground field experience have led to ideas that have substantially increased reliance upon partnerships with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He repeatedly uses creative solutions to complete major improvements lacking sufficient funding. Under Mark’s leadership to involve visitors, the recreation program has received more than 45,000 hours of contributed labor for each of the last three fiscal years.

As Chief of Recreation Resources for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central California Area Office in Folsom, California, Pedro “Pete” Lucero has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the Visitor Services Plan at Lake Berryessa. Pete’s skills in communicating with Congressional leaders, U.S. Department of the Interior officials, as well as internal Reclamation staff, have been pivotal in this effort, which has resulted in changing nearly 50 years of private, exclusive use of the public land at Lake Berryessa to create a first-class recreation destination of the publicly owned lake and adjacent land for full public use and enjoyment. When the final new construction is completed, the nine million residents of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas will have another destination site in the world-famous Napa Valley.

Pete Gonzalez is a Construction Project Manager overseeing highway projects on federal lands across the State of Washington for FHWA’s Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD), which he joined 30 years ago. At WFLHD, Pete has successfully served in positions that have advanced transportation projects in a number of important recreational corridors in Washington and Oregon. The most recent example of his accomplishments is Pete’s involvement with the reconstruction efforts in Mt. Rainier National Park following the devastating floods that effectively shut down the park in the fall of 2006. Pete was the focal point of all activities necessary to rebuild facilities on each of the park’s major routes. Also deserving special recognition is Pete’s involvement with Lewis and Clark Bicentennial transportation activities. At the request of the National Park Service, Pete was loaned to the Fort Clatsop National Memorial to assist with constructing the cornerstone of the regional transit system there. The completion of these projects greatly enhanced the visitor experience.

Garry Traynham is Deputy Superintendent of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where he has been the driving force behind a number of innovative and valuable partnerships over the past 10 years. A standout example is the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk development now under way – the first time the National Park Service has partnered with a city to operate one of its facilities. Garry has also worked with partners to bring urban and minority youth to the park for field work and resource-management training. The Dune Learning Center, developed during his tenure, brings more than 5,000 students into the park each year for residential education programs, extending the park experience to youth who would otherwise never have the chance to stay overnight in the outdoors. Garry facilitated partnerships with nearby communities to develop and maintain trails that will eventually allow hiking and biking throughout the region and from Chicago to Ohio. Another innovative partnership with the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, allowing private individuals to restore and live in historic structures, will lead to the preservation of five Century of Progress International Exposition homes from the 1933-34 Chicago’s World’s Fair.

In his nearly 34 years of federal service, Bradley Keshlear, the semi-retired South Atlantic Division (SAD) Recreation Program Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has contributed significantly to the promotion of quality outdoor recreation opportunities on the public lands and waters managed by SAD. He was a founding member of the team that developed and implemented the National Recreation Reservation Service, a centralized Web-based national reservation system covering a variety of specific recreational services and facilities. His diligent and proactive work with the Centers for Disease Control, National Water Safety Congress, and Southeast Tourism Policy Council led to the development and adoption of innovative national standards. He also led the SAD Water Safety Team in the implementation of innovative ideas targeted at saving lives on Corps lakes. During his career, Brad always stayed focused on his customers’ needs with an emphasis on nurturing community support for both the Corps and the federal recreation program.

Bennie Williams oversees the coordination of interjurisdictional fisheries and recreational fisheries management at the national level for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bennie has demonstrated extraordinary individual effort and great personal sacrifice to expand participation of urban youth in recreational fishing and to connect children, especially under-served and special-needs youth, to nature through the use of innovative programs. Since 2003, when he joined the agency, Bennie has chaired the interagency committee that organizes National Fishing and Boating Week in the National Capital Area, particularly the youth fishing event on the National Mall. More recently, he has worked with the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and 21 other industry and nonprofit partners to establish a youth fishing event as a key part of the National Casting Call, a series of events over two days focused on sustaining the growth of recreational fishing. This year, he began working with the C.A.S.T.(Catch a Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation to provide disabled children with the opportunity for a quality fishing experience. He is also engaged in a broad partnership to restore the Anacostia River, which will provide new fishing opportunities to urban residents of the District of Columbia.

Dennis Krusac is an Endangered Species Specialist in the Southern Region of the U.S. Forest Service, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Dennis has developed outreach programs for mentally and physically challenged children, as well as minority students, and widely emulated accessible fishing facilities for children, senior citizens and disabled anglers. Dennis has worked through positive partnerships that have yielded numerous opportunities that would not have been successful otherwise, leveraging limited funds and providing results far beyond the initial investment of time and people. His work with inner-city Atlanta minority youth culminated in a 2008 “More Kids in the Woods” $80,000 grant focused on minority teens in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and several other non-traditional partners. He has shared his cutting-edge proposals with other forests and districts to encourage and stimulate combining recreation and environmental education efforts.

ARC recognizes John Keys (1942-2008), former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Legends Award. Throughout his 39 years of service to the Bureau, including his service as Commissioner from 2001 until 2006, John was a great supporter of recreation at Reclamation projects. John strongly influenced the development of the recreation facilities at the lakes in the Pacific Northwest region, where he was the Regional Director for 12 years. He was a passionate supporter of the C.A.S.T. for Kids program. John helped organize the first C.A.S.T. event in 1992 at Banks Lake in Washington. Reclamation now sponsors over 20 C.A.S.T. events a year. John was highly regarded by many national officials and organizations for his professionalism, integrity and ability to cross all boundaries and have friends in all groups.

The 2008 Legends Award ceremony will take place on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 during a special function featuring key officials from the federal agencies. For more information about the 2008 Legends Awards or other aspects of Great Outdoors Week, contact the American Recreation Coalition at 202-682-9530 or cmica@funoutdoors.com .