June 2013 Newsletter


This newsletter is available in PDF format

In this issue:

Great Outdoors Month Proclaimed by White House, Governors
2013 Great Outdoors Week Puts Recreation in the Spotlight in D.C.
House Hearing on Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act
GO Day 2013: Bigger, Better
New National Park Centennial Advisory Committee Meets


The President and all 50 governors declared June 2013 as Great Outdoors Month, demonstrating that fun outdoors successfully bridges the nation’s political and regional divisions. This was the third time every governor in the nation took action for Great Outdoors Month. The Governor of the Virgin Islands and the Mayor of the District Columbia also issued proclamations.

The proclamations were unique but shared key themes, including applauding the health and economic benefits of the Great Outdoors. New in 2013 was the outpouring of support from governors for key events taking place during June. More than a dozen Governors from states as diverse as Idaho and Louisiana and Connecticut specifically applauded the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day, National Fishing and Boating Week coordinated by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day organized by the Association of Marina Industries, National Get Outdoors Day organized by the American Recreation Coalition and the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.

View and download President Obama’s 2013 proclamation and all gubernatorial Great Outdoors Month Proclamations at http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2934.

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To see pictures of key Great Outdoors Week events, click here.

Beacon Awards

Great Outdoors Week 2013 kicked off with the presentation of the Beacon Awards in the Rachel Carson Room of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Beacon Awards recognize use of technology to improve visitor experiences on public lands and waters and federal recreation program management. Federal agencies nominate candidates for the award each year, but ARC selects recipients based on national award criteria.

Six 2013 Beacons were awarded to: Bob Danley, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, for Use of Social Media to Reach New Audiences; the National Park Service Planning Program for Use of Technology to Aid Public Engagement in Park Planning; Bureau of Land Management’s Phoenix District for Cell Phone/Quick Response (QR) Code Tours; Lisa Shon Jodwalis, Park Ranger-Interpretation, Bureau of Land Management, for Arctic Visions & Voices, A Journey through Northern Alaska; Elaine Bernat, Forest Service Web Manager, for the Willamette and Siuslaw National Forests Websites; and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger John Wargo for Use of Technology to Promote Water and Boating Safety. For more information on 2013 Beacon Award winners, click here.

Opening Celebration

Friends from federal agencies and the recreation community gathered in the Bison Bistro – the Department of the Interior's cafeteria – for the now-traditional official opening celebration of Great Outdoors Week with an ice cream social. Unilever, one of the week's sponsors, provided an array of delicious frozen treats that were enjoyed by senior officials from three federal departments and a wide array of recreation organizations. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell addressed the group (see her comments here). The Presidential and gubernatorial proclamations designating June as Great Outdoors Month were displayed, describing the important role played by recreation in the U.S. economy, our health and conservation efforts.

Legends Awards

Top federal agency representatives and recreation enthusiasts gathered at the Mayflower Renaissance for the presentations of 2013 Legends Awards. Six federal managers received 2013 Legends Awards recognizing outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people: Tony Brady, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Marcia Butorac, Bureau of Land Management; Rachel Garren, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Stan Hinatsu, U.S. Forest Service; David LaRoche, Federal Highway Administration; and Jerry Willis, National Park Service. The awards were presented by American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall and key agency officials, including NPS Director Jon Jarvis – who received a Legends Award in 2002.

Legends Awards have been presented annually since 1991. Federal agencies hosting more than a billion recreation visits annually nominate one individual to receive a Legends Award for extraordinary personal efforts which have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources.

For more information on the 2013 Legends Award winners, click here.

Recreation Exchange

Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, was the special guest speaker at the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange. The Exchange was hosted jointly by ARC and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Director Jarvis’s remarks covered a number of key topics, including: the challenges currently facing the National Park Service; the agency’s upcoming Centennial in 2016; and new agency initiatives.

The Director was very candid in addressing current challenges, including flat visitation and aging infrastructure. Mr. Jarvis commented that the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity among visitors and the irrelevance of the parks to too many young people were even greater concerns than the lack of growth in visitation. “We’ve got to connect to all Americans,” he said, describing the lack of diversity and youth as “a recipe for decline.” Another challenge cited by the Director was funding – noting a growing $11 billion backlog in maintenance.

Director Jarvis told the group that the first Director of the National Park Service – Stephen Mather – had been a marketing expert from the private sector who had successfully sold national parks to both the U.S. Congress and the American people using partnerships with the railroads, with the National Geographic Society, and with the artistic community. He noted that the agency’s Organic Act tasks the National Park Service with both the regulation and the promotion of the national parks. He expressed pride in the protection mission, but told the group that promotion had been largely neglected. A new campaign for the national parks is now in development by GreyNYC in conjunction with the Centennial, a real marketing strategy, he stated, which will involve the use of well-known figures from sports and Hollywood and iconic events like the Tournament of Roses Parade and halftime at the Super Bowl. The campaign will mean increased visitation and a new constituency for parks – as both stewards and philanthropists – among future generations.

Jarvis added that the agency is also looking at new models for financing its operations, carefully evaluating many different ideas for sustainable supplemental funding raised in March at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Bridgebuilder session. To read more about NPS Director Jarvis’ remarks, click here.

Coalition for Recreational Trails Awards for RTP Projects and State Trail Efforts

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) held a very successful awards ceremony in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The awards, which have been presented for the last 15 years, recognize outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds in a number of different categories, including: construction and design; environmental compatibility; education and communication; and maintenance and rehabilitation. CRT also joined with the National Association of State Park Directors to recognize state-level trails program excellence. West Virginia received the RTP Achievement Award for Outstanding State Trail Program and Wisconsin was recognized for the Outstanding State Trail Advisory Board. The RTP Great Outdoors Week event was also dedicated to six Members of Congress, a bipartisan group from across the nation who guided the program through the challenges of reauthorization under MAP-21. Among the champions who appeared at the program were U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME), Tom Petri (R-WI), and Nick Rahall (D-WV). Also joining the event were U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment and Realty, Federal Highway Administration, and staff representing a number of Members of Congress unable to appear in person. For more details on the awards, click here. To review the new database of RTP-funded projects, click here.

Healthy Food in Parks

Great Outdoors Week included a high-visibility Wednesday event on the National Mall to celebrate efforts to offer national park visitors information about and choices of healthy food. NPS Director Jon Jarvis, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, leading park concessioner executives and Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor to the President on Nutrition, explained efforts to reach park visitors who purchase nearly 30 million meals annually while in parks. The NPS issued standards which will be incorporated into future park concessions contracts – with support from the agency’s current concessions partners. The agency is also supporting efforts to obtain food from local sources and to adopt food standards which reflect high levels of commitment to environmentally responsible operations. The announcements concluded with a delightful treat of healthy foods prepared on location by guest chefs from four concessioners: Guest Services Inc., ARAMARK, Delaware North Companies and Xanterra. For details on the new standards, click here.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander Wins 2013 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, the recreation community's most prestigious award. The award is presented to individuals whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences across America.

The award was created in 1989 to honor the life-long efforts of Sheldon Coleman, whose engineering, marketing and advocacy talents made coolers, lanterns and tents bearing his name ubiquitous on America's public lands.

Lamar Alexander chaired the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors (PCAO). He has served as the Secretary of Education and as the Governor of Tennessee, where he focused on sustainable economic growth, leading Tennessee to become the third largest auto producing state while protecting open space and improving water quality. First elected to the Senate in 2002, Senator Alexander served three terms as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and is presently the ranking Republican overseeing both education, labor and health and energy appropriations.

Senator Alexander led PCAO’s articulation of a strategy for recreation at a critical time – when political fractiousness over natural resource matters and tight federal and state budgets threatened to lead to public recreation program cutbacks. PCAO's advocacy of greenways and scenic byways, of making recreation a priority for federal land-managing agencies previously commodity-focused, of expanded volunteerism and a new emphasis on outdoor ethics, of strategies for paying for federal recreation services and of a new era of private/public partnerships inspired action in Washington and across the nation.

The Senator has also been a champion of National Park Service Centennial efforts, working to equip NPS to be relevant and effective in its second century. He keynoted the first-ever America’s Summit on National Parks and has spoken out about the health challenges facing Americans, especially youth, because of obesity and lessened physical activity, and the role of recreation as a cost-effective remedy.

The recreation community applauds the Senator’s leadership in securing additional funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and championing another national recreation policy review. He helped lead the Outdoor Resources Review Group, an independent blue ribbon panel operating from 2008 to 2009. His efforts helped catalyze President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. As they enjoy time in the Great Outdoors, millions of Americans and international visitors benefit from Lamar Alexander’s vision and energies.

The award will be presented to the Senator on September 10 in Washington, D.C. The award is again an original piece of American Indian art. Past award recipients include, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former President George H. W. Bush, National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor, then-U.S. Senators John Breaux, Frank Murkowski and John Chafee, then-U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar, former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, Snowbird Chairman and CEO Dick Bass, and former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

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The U.S. House of Representatives held an oversight hearing on the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) on June 18, listening to representatives of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture as well as public witnesses. Committee staff expects to work with recreation and agency interests over the summer to develop a bill and to conduct at least one more hearing this fall. FLREA, which authorizes federal recreation site entrance and facility use fees, is now slated to expire in December 2014.

FLREA replaced the experimental “fee demo” program which began in 1996 and allowed fee retention by collecting sites to overcome federal site closures and quality declines caused by tight agency budgets. The authority now provides an estimated $300 million annually for recreation program spending. There are a number of concerns about FLREA, including:

1) Recreation community fears that fees are simply replacing reduced appropriations;
2) Controversy over fees collected at sites with very limited services;
3) The high cost of fee programs, including collection and public involvement;
4) Special benefits for seniors at concessioner-operated facilities; and
5) Linkage with other efforts underway to upgrade recreation infrastructure including campgrounds in national forests.

Action to extend FLREA is likely before December 2014. The President’s FY2014 budget proposed a one-year extension. Draft legislation which would extend FLREA for another 10 years – or perhaps permanently – is circulating on the Hill. ARC has suggested a three-year extension and direction by the Congress to the agencies to improve key functions, including use of new technologies to collect fees and more effective public consultation on fees. To read ARC’s comments submitted for the hearing, including a multi-organization letter focusing on national park fees, click here.

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National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) celebrates America’s Great Outdoors and encourages kids and their families to spend time outdoors, exploring the natural world and enjoying various outdoor recreation activities. GO Day unifies public and private-sector interests in efforts to introduce families and youth, particularly from urban environments, to the great outdoors. This year GO Day was more successful than ever, with 148 events in 39 States. Initial reports from these events indicate they had record attendance as well. The number of “larger” Signature Sites also increased from eight to eleven, with each attracting several thousand attendees.

Although the total attendance at GO Day events is still being determined, GO Day 2013 received more support and publicity than any previous year. In proclaiming June as Great Outdoors Month, 15 governors made specific mention of GO Day, compared to three in 2012. In the digital world the GO Day Facebook network surpassed two million people, twice as many as a year ago. GO Day was also the subject of a record number of news stories.

This success was made possible by hundreds of partner organizations that supported GO Day events in their communities, and a record number of national sponsors. In addition to perennial support from the Coleman Company, GO Day was also supported by Coach-Net, Coca-Cola, Destination Nature, Green Mountain Digital, and Sportsman’s Guide. Their support ranged from cash donations for the purchase of giveaway items to kid’s books to developing an App.

More information on GO Day 2013 will be available here on the GO Day website soon.

National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008, in response to a growing number of disturbing reports about today’s youth, particularly in relationship to their health and daily activities. Today’s American youth average 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen and are six times more likely to play a computer game than to ride a bike. The U.S. Forest Service and ARC agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors.

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The National Park Service (NPS) has created a 31–member body to help plan for the agency’s 2016 Centennial. It was formed as a committee of the National Park System Advisory Board, giving it Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) status. The committee is chaired by Gretchen Long of Wilson, Wyoming, and includes top leadership of such partner organizations as the National Park Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Parks Friends Alliance and National Park Hospitality Association. Virtually all key park constituencies are represented – from tourism (Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon) to NPS retirees (Maureen Finnerty, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees), state agencies (Priscilla Geigis, National Association of State Park Directors), and the National Geographic Society (John Francis). Two practicing physicians are on the committee, reflecting the strong interest of the agency in tying healthy people to healthy parks.

The initial meeting of the committee began with a reception at the Woodrow Wilson House, arranged by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. President Wilson signed the legislation creating NPS in 1916. During its full-day session, the committee heard from and interacted with Grey, the agency developing a multi-year, multi-million dollar per annum Centennial campaign with Key Performance Indicators including increased park visitation. The committee also urged the NPS to undertake an outreach effort to invite partners for Centennial efforts – and urged that partners and activities be selected to support ongoing efforts to make NPS and parks relevant and sustainable. Grey has completed qualitative research and is now undertaking quantitative research which will lead to presentation of an outline of the proposed campaign in early fall 2013 to NPS and the advisory committee.

The committee will meet at least twice annually through the 2016 Centennial. Its seven-member executive group, which includes Derrick Crandall representing NPHA, will meet at least four times annually. For information on the Centennial Advisory Committee charter click here, for information on Advisory Committee members, click here.