New Outdoor Resources Review Group Meets

A diverse collection of recreation and conservation leaders gathered on Capitol Hill for the initial meeting of the new Outdoor Resources Review Group (ORRG), which was hosted by Honorary Co-Chairs Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Organized by Henry Diamond and Pat Noonan, long-time recreation and conservation leaders, the 17-member body will assess changes in recreation, recreation resources and recreation needs and formulate recommendations for the new Administration and the next Congress on whether a third national recreation commission is warranted and what issues would be most timely and productive to be addressed by the commission.

The work of ORRG will be funded by three foundations long associated with conservation and recreation issues, according to Henry Diamond: foundations linked to the Mellon, Packard and Rockefeller families. Staff work for the group will be led by Resources for the Future Senior Fellow Margaret Walls. The group plans three to four additional meetings in 2008 and early 2009.

At the initial meeting, strong support was expressed for a range of programs and initiatives – and funding – that arose from the 1958-1962 Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission chaired by Laurence Rockefeller. However, equally strong support was expressed for assessing the greatly changed situation facing recreation and conservation issues in the 21st Century, including lower participation by youth and fast-growing portions of the American public.

“I was delighted by the initial discussions today,” reported Derrick Crandall, ARC President and a member of both the new ORRG and the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors in the 1980's. “This diverse gathering can assemble information and create the stage for a new commission and a new Administration to move promptly on key opportunities in 2009 – including utilizing our Great Outdoors as a tool to deliver physical and mental well-being. Most critical is timing. Good ideas must surface early in the new Administration. And when those ideas surface, the recreation and conservation groups must be unified and vocal in their support.”

“Among ARC’s key objectives are ensuring that the work of this group highlights appropriately the human values of recreation and encouraging discussion about recreation management that appeals to 21st Century Americans while still protecting core natural and cultural resources,” Crandall added. “I will help this group understand the vital and appropriate roles being played by the private sector in meeting the nation’s recreation and conservation needs – and how steps can be taken to build upon current partnerships. This group will also need to focus attention on the resources and the needs of youth service organizations, including scouting organizations, long involved in connecting American kids to the outdoors.”

Members of the new ORRG body are:

Carol Ash, Commissioner, New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
John Berry, Director, National Zoological Park and Former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
Phil Bredesen, Governor, State of Tennessee
Derrick Crandall, President, American Recreation Coalition
Henry Diamond, Partner, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
Yvonne Ferrell, Executive Director, NASORLO, and Former Director of Parks, Idaho
Gilbert Grosvenor, Chairman, National Geographic Society
Michael Mantell, Founder, Resources Law Institute
Patrick Noonan, Chairman Emeritus, The Conservation Fund
William Reilly, Former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Kent Salazar, President, New Mexico Wildlife Federation
Mark Sanford, Governor, State of South Carolina
Cathy Douglas Stone, Special Assistant to the Mayor of Boston
Kathy Sullivan, Director, Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy
Douglas Wheeler, Partner, Hogan & Hartson LLP, and former Secretary for Resources, California
Steven Williams, President, Wildlife Management Institute and Former Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Joseph Wynns, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Indianapolis, Indiana

The next meeting of the group is scheduled for September 2008. An overview of the group’s purpose and an initial scoping paper are attached.