Partners Outdoors 2013 newsrelease

Funding, International Tourism and Access to Be Focus of Partners Outdoors 2013

This news release is available as a .pdf here.

Washington, D.C. – More than 100 recreation community leaders from across the nation and representing public and private organizations key to enjoyment of public lands and waters will participate in Partners Outdoors 2013 on February 19-21. Meeting at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, participants will focus on three important topics: 1) innovative and supplementary funding for recreation sites and operations on federal lands and waters; 2) opportunities to attract international visitors to America's Great Outdoors and assist both the economy and understanding of American values; and 3) using the recent transportation legislation known as MAP-21 and more to support access to and travel through America's Great Outdoors.

Partners Outdoors has been an annual session since 1992, co-hosted by federal agencies, the American Recreation Coalition and other organizations. The 2013 session will also respond to increasing restrictions on federal travel – and the threat those restrictions pose to communications among public and private partners who support the needs of recreation visitors. Participants will use videoconferencing, off-site speakers, pre-recorded presentations and interactive, multiple-site discussions to explore the three core issues and creative efforts underway. The program will also maximize use of traditional face-to face discussions and networking opportunities to shape recommendations for senior federal agency and private sector recreation community leaders.

USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Harris Sherman has been invited to open the program via a live video-link. The Under Secretary is centrally involved in efforts to bring new excitement and resources to the recreation program of the Forest Service. Although national forests provide world-class opportunities for many activities, especially skiing, much of the visitor infrastructure on its 193 million acres is dated and in need of “makeovers.” And infrastructure for many newer activities does not exist. Secretary Harris is expected to report on progress and encourage participants to develop innovative solutions to challenges far exceeding the appropriated resources available to federal agencies.

Partners Outdoors planners have also asked the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR) to join the participants – again by video-link – for a closing session in which FICOR’s members will be briefed on the discussions and action recommendations developed at Partners Outdoors.

Participants in Partners Outdoors are invited by the sponsoring entities, selected to represent a diverse group of national program leaders, activists at the local level and key allies from the health, tourism, education and youth services communities. For further information, contact Catherine Ahern, Partners Outdoors Coordinator, at cahern@funoutdoors.com.