ARC Recognizes Outstanding Federal Managers

Washington, D.C. — The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) presented its 2003 Legends Awards to nine federal managers in recognition of their outstanding work to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. The awards were presented on June 11, 2003 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: USDA Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Federal Highway Administration. Each agency nominates an individual whose extraordinary personal efforts have made a real difference in enhancing outdoor recreation programs and resources. This year, two additional representatives from the USDA Forest Service and Corps of Engineers were recognized for their interagency partnership efforts. Recipients of the 2003 Legends Awards are:
  • Franklin Lewis, Director of the Ocoee Whitewater Center, located on the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee;
  • Joe Woods, Chief of the Project Resources Management Branch in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operations Division in Vicksburg, Mississippi;
  • Brad Rixford, Outdoor Recreation Planner in the Bureau of Land Management’s Butte, Montana Field Office;
  • Clay McDermeit, Resource Management Specialist in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque, New Mexico Area Office;
  • John Debo, Superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio;
  • Bonnie Strawser, Wildlife Interpretive Specialist with the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina;
  • Roger Skoe, Local Programs Manager for the Federal Highway Administration’s Oregon Division Office;
  • Lynne Beeson, Interagency Program Manager for the National Recreation Reservation System, operating from the Savannah, Georgia District of the Corps of Engineers; and
  • Carol Holtz, Contracting Officer’s Representative for the National Recreation Reservation System, based in the Green Mountain/Fingerlakes National Forest Supervisor’s office in Vermont.
Pictures of the award presentations are available in the 2003 Legends Awards Presentations image gallery.

Franklin Lewis has developed and implemented a marketing plan for the Ocoee Whitewater Center (OWC), a $14 million facility that was the site of the 1996 Olympic kayak and canoe competition. The OWC hosts over 300,000 visitors annually, offering a variety of activities from hiking and biking to picnicking on the Ocoee River. Lewis’ plan has been a marked success, demonstrated by the $300,000 in revenue that has already been generated since 2002. He also developed a partnership for the 2002 Ocoee River Days Festival, which ultimately resulted in a $50,000 recreation enhancement grant.

Under the direction of Joe Woods, the recreation program in the Corps’ Vicksburg District – which includes 500,000 acres of public lands in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana – has flourished, experiencing a 500% increase in visitor use over the last 30 years. By establishing partnerships with state and local agencies, as well as private-sector recreation providers, he has overseen an unprecedented growth of outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. His determination to include visitors’ input when making major decisions about recreation and park features has been recognized Corps-wide as an innovative approach to program management.

For the last 20 years, Brad Rixford has been instrumental in meeting the increasing public demands for recreation facilities and other amenities along the Missouri and Big Hole River Corridors where annual visitation averages 200,000 visitor days. He has expanded the BLM’s recreation program to include 22 developed recreation sites, including six that are a component of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, generating over $90,000 in annual revenue for improved visitor amenities. He has spearheaded the development of campgrounds on Holter and Houser Lakes, as well as along the Missouri and Big Hole River Corridors, that are now considered among the premier campground systems in the country.

Clay McDermeit successfully worked in collaboration with state park, wildlife and historic preservation agencies, county and city officials, oil and gas companies, and private concessioners to solve longstanding land use problems at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Elephant Butte Reservoir on the Rio Grande River. He also incorporated innovative design approaches in planning recreation facilities at other Reclamation lakes, leading to the development of facilities that could accommodate individuals with disabilities and provide play structures for children, thus making the areas more attractive to the broadest spectrum of recreation users.

As Superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park since 1988, John Debo has been an innovative leader in the park’s development and a driving force in the creation, design and implementation of regional recreation development projects. His work in conjunction with the Ohio & Erie Canal Corridor project has provided great opportunities for river access and water-related interpretation, making the park an active partner in community building from the heart of urban Cleveland to rural Zoar, Ohio. In the last fiscal year alone, his leadership inspired donations of funds and services approaching $5 million to benefit Cuyahoga Valley, now nationally recognized as a “partnership park.”

Bonnie Strawser has organized and led Wings Over Water, an annual celebration of eastern North Carolina’s wildlife and wildlands that draws hundreds of visitors from all over the country for a week filled with educational activities surrounding birds, wildlife and nature exploration. She also initiated the development of the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, a Friends group that now raises more than $100,000 for the Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges. In addition, she initiated and coordinated the Charles Kuralt driving trail – On the Refuge Trail – which links 11 refuges and a fish hatchery in the region.

Roger Skoe has lead responsibility for the Federal Highway Administration’s recreational trails, scenic byways, and transportation enhancement programs in Oregon. As a member of the state’s advisory committees for those three programs, he functions as a key advisor for each state coordinator. Through his work with the state Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, for example, he helped develop criteria to encourage partnering and leveraging contributions from the private sector in trail projects, thus ensuring that if one partner was not able to sustain continued support for operating and maintaining a trail, another partner would assume this responsibility. In 2002, he was recognized for his leadership on the state’s Scenic Byways Touchscreen Kiosk project, which provided real-time road conditions and travel information.

The collaboration between Lynne Beeson and Carol Holtz has played a key role in the success of the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS), the largest recreation reservation service in North America. Working through contractor ReserveAmerica, NRRS provides recreation reservation services to the public for Forest Service and Corps of Engineers facilities while generating nearly $50 million in annual revenue for the two agencies. Ms. Holtz oversees the NRRS Contract Management Office and provides financial management for the NRRS while Ms. Beeson, as Interagency Program Manager, works to further develop a seamless interagency reservation service.

For more information about the 2003 Legends Awards or other aspects of Great Outdoors Week, contact the American Recreation Coalition at 202-682-9530 or