Public Lands

ARC Salutes Secretary Norton's Many Contributions to Outdoor Recreation

(Washington, D.C.) - Gale A. Norton tendered her resignation to President Bush on March 10, 2006 after five years of service to the nation as Secretary of the Interior. In response, American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall issued a statement commenting on Secretary Norton's involvement with the recreation community. To read this statement, click here.

Mark Rey Explains the Bush Administration’s Secure Rural Schools Proposal at ARC's Recreation Exchange

(Washington, D.C.) - The March 2006 Recreation Exchange featured Mark Rey, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, who oversees the Forest Service and a variety of other key programs. Mr. Rey addressed the Administration’s proposal to re-authorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 for an additional five years.

To read this report, click here.

An Update on Proposed U.S. Forest Service Land Sale to Fund Secure Rural Schools Act

Senators Wyden (D-Oregon) and Craig (R-Idaho), who authored the original Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act in 2000, recently released a report written by the Sierra Institute and funded by the Forest Service lauding the success of the Secure Rural Schools Act and proposing that it be continued for an additional seven years. Their bill, S. 267 introduced in 2005, would reauthorize the initial law, which established a six year payment formula for counties that receive revenue sharing payments to compensate for declining timber sales on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. The reauthorization legislation conflicts with the Adminstration's proposal to fund the program for an additional five years at a reduced level through land sales by the Forest Service. Senator Craig has said that, though he has concerns, he needs to learn more about the Administration's funding proposal before taking a position.

Fact Sheet: Secure Rural Schools Forest Service FY 2007 Initiative

The Bush Administration has proposed a five-year extension of the "Secure Rural School and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000,” or SRS, which aids rural communities adversely impacted by a decline in USDA Forest Service timber receipts which are, in part, shared with the counties on which the timber originates. The Act was initially funded with general revenues; the Administration proposes to extend the law using proceeds from the sale of surplus national forest lands. The Forest Service has now posted a list of tracts totaling 309,000 acres in more than 40 states that it wants to make available for sale to fund the extension. The funds – $800 million over the five years – would be divided among 735 eligible counties in 41 states.

ARC Submits Comments on NPS Management Policies

(Washington, D.C.) – On February 17, the American Recreation Coalition submitted comments on proposed revisions to the NPS Management Policies, a document designed to guide decisions throughout the agency. ARC advised the agency that it supports the current review as especially significant because the 2001 version of NPS management policies was developed under Interior leadership that assumed park visitation would increase dramatically and pose serious threats to the parks. In fact, park visits have not grown significantly.

President's FY 2007 Budget Reduces Recreation Spending

ARC offers this initial overview of the President’s FY 2007 Budget. We will update the website with additional details and clarifications as our understanding increases.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

(Washington, D.C.) - Secretary Gail Norton emphasized three areas of strategic focus for the FY 2007 Department of the Interior budget released February 6th at a press briefing: collaborative approaches and partnerships, facilitating energy production and continuing Indian trust reform. She stressed that the theme of working with partners appears throughout the budget, and that the Cooperative Conservation program which leverages non-federal investments in stewardship, will receive a boost under this budget request. The second strategic focus is implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Act through increased exploration, development and leasing of diverse energy resources, both on federal lands and in deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Action by Congress to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and development, and an initial ANWR lease sale in 2008, are assumptions of the budget. Overall, the current appropriations request of $10.5 billion represents a decrease of $321.9 million or 2.9% below the FY 2006 enacted level, excluding hurricane funding. Permanent funding sources will add an additional $5.6 billion, for a total Interior budget of $16.1 billion.

The overall DOI budget includes $1.2 billion to support recreation goals, including improving access to recreation opportunities. Program reductions of interest to the recreation community include no funding for LWCF Fund State grants, a $29.7 million reduction from FY 2006 levels. According to Secretary Norton, budget request reductions are targeted at programs identified as “less central to Interior’s core mission”, programs that are duplicative, or those, like the LWCF State Grant program, which are deemed more appropriate for state and local funding. The federal side of the LWCF survived, but is reduced to $91 million in the FY 2007 budget request. The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program remains unfunded for a third year. What follows is a summary by agency of budget items of interest to the recreation community.

ReserveAmerica Awarded NRRS Contract

USDA NEWS RELEASE
USACE NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623 (USDA)
Joan Moody (202) 208-6416 (DOI)
David Hewitt (202) 761-4826 (USACE)

PUBLIC TO BENEFIT FROM SINGLE RESERVATION SERVICE


E-Gov Initiative will Provide One-Stop for Campgrounds/Recreation Reservations

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2004 –- The United States Department of Agriculture today announced the award of a contract to provide a single, interagency federal recreation information and reservation service called the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).

The three and a half-year, performance-based contract with a total potential value of $128 million was awarded to ReserveAmerica of Ballston Spa, N.Y. The contract provides for additional option periods for a total contract period not to exceed 10 years. The Forest Service conducted a full and open competition for the award of the new contract. The new contract will consolidate and expand the existing federal reservation services and agencies may add other sites that are currently individually reserved at the local level. It will begin operating in late 2004.

Top Recreation/Tourism/Transportation Organizations urge Congress to fund National Park roads, homeland security

Nearly 40 organizations sent Congress two letters regarding National Park Service funding. One letter seeks full funding for national park roads, both in any final legislation emerging from the now-underway conference committee on a successor to TEA-21 and in any further extensions of TEA-21. Click here to see the Park Roads Letter.

The second letter seeks to have the costs of anti-terrorism efforts of the National Park Service paid for by the Department of Homeland Security, much as park road costs are funded through the Department of Transportation. We believe that the potential exists for guarding national critical assets and infrastructure at NPS sites could seriously erode the capability of the agency to continue progress on elimination of the backlog of deferred maintenance and in the use of new and higher fees to improve visitor services. Click Here to see the Anti-Terrorism letter.

Access to Public Lands: Meeting the Challenge

America’s public lands are a magnificent national recreation resource. Much of the outdoor recreation enjoyed in this country -- hiking, skiing, biking, horseback riding, four wheeling, to name just a few examples -- takes place on these public lands. Millions of Americans and visitors to this country who drive for pleasure -- one of the most popular forms of recreation -- cherish their visits to public-land sites. The economic vitality of countless communities is directly linked to recreation and tourism associated with these lands. Unfortunately, although there is widespread recognition of public lands as a priceless national resource, the system of roads that keeps them accessible and enjoyable is all too often overlooked and undervalued. As a result, the future of these roads -- and the communities they serve -- is far from assured.

Measuring and Rewarding Quality Operations by Recreation Businesses Operating on Public Lands and Waters

The American public needs quality outdoor recreation opportunities. Budgetary realities at the federal, state and local levels strongly suggest that partnerships with the private sector will be an increasingly important means for providing these opportunities. In addition to clear definition of the objectives of the partnership at its conception, public/private partnerships need clear mechanisms for assessing the quality of the performance of both partners.