Great Outdoors Week 2004 Will Celebrate Recreation's Contributions to Health, Quality of Life

Washington, D.C. - Great Outdoors Week 2004 - June 7-11 - will highlight the invaluable contributions active outdoor recreation makes to Americans' health and quality of life. It will also highlight the central role of the nation's magnificent parks, forests, refuges and other protected lands - public lands covering one in three acres of the nation - in providing diverse and accessible recreation opportunities enjoyed by Americans during more than one billion visits annually.

The week will again be coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and will include events hosted by more than 20 federal agencies and national organizations. Public/private cooperative ventures - from Take Pride in America to WOW-Wonderful Outdoor World - will be highlighted, along with presentations of key awards including the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, ARC's Legends Awards to top federal recreation program officials, and best practices awards by the Coalition for Recreational Trails and the States Organization for Boating Access.

Monday will begin with a Recreation Policy Forum on Recreation and Health co-sponsored by ARC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mid-day, hundreds of recreation leaders will gather to celebrate the contributions of the nation's surface transportation program to recreation opportunities, honoring Congressional champions of the Recreational Trails Program, the Transportation Enhancements program and the National Scenic Byways Program. Monday afternoon will feature a meeting of the new Outdoor Recreation Technology Task Force and a briefing on exciting new opportunities to enhance and manage recreation on public lands through technology. The opening reception for the week will follow the briefing and will be held at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Tuesday will begin with a new event honoring best projects funded under the Wallop-Breaux program that enhance access to the nation's public waters for anglers and boaters. "Best practices" recognition will continue with an awards program hosted by ARC and the Coalition for Recreational Trails. Tuesday evening will feature the presentation of the 15th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award at a new site along the Potomac River.

Wednesday's activities commence with a briefing on coordination of federal recreation programs by agency leaders and the presentation of ARC's Legends Awards. Wednesday will also include the June Recreation Exchange, which will highlight the key link between health and participation in active recreation. The Surgeon General of the United States has been invited to be the guest speaker. The afternoon will include an open house and activity showcase by the USDA Forest Service recreation staff, including discussions of plans for the agency's centennial celebration in 2005. An evening event will focus on the Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial Commemoration.

Thursday will honor the Take Pride in America program with a day of volunteerism by recreation community leaders and others on public lands along the Potomac River. The day will also continue the tradition of showcasing WOW-Wonderful Outdoor World and its nationwide efforts to introduce urban youth to the Great Outdoors. The day of service will conclude with a gathering of all volunteers for the popular Great Outdoors Week ice cream social.

Friday will continue to highlight the contributions of recreation to the nation's health - and how enjoyable recreational activities readily qualify as the daily physical activity identified as vital to our health by the Surgeon General. A VIP-led walk on the National Mall will begin at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 8:00 am will be open to recreation community leaders as well as representatives of segments of the American public most challenged in meeting minimum physical activity levels.

Additional details on Great Outdoors Week 2004, including opportunities to be part of the excitement, will be found at here on this website.