Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, February 10, 2011

What Works: National Park Service Centennial an Opportunity to Reenergize Park Partnerships

February 10, 2011 (Washington, DC) - The America's Great Outdoors report is due out Februrary 16th. Here is an important letter submitted to AGO last September about the role of the 2016 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service as a catalyst for more progress -- let's hope to see these sentiments reflected in the report next week!

September 10, 2010

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior

The Honorable Nancy Sutley, Chair
Council on Environmental Quality

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture

The Honorable Lisa Jackson, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack, Chair Sutley and Administrator Jackson:

As millions of families, including the first family, visit national parks across the country, we are once again reminded that our national parks are a core part of our nation’s great outdoors. As you work to define the administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we write to remind you of the centrality of our beloved national parks to America’s great outdoors and to encourage you to include a robust national park component in the initiative.

National Parks are our nation’s most beloved places. The parks are anchors that protect the nation’s treasured landscapes, and are integral to landscape-scale efforts merging protection, public access, and sustainable economies. There is an opportunity to leverage existing public enthusiasm for parks to do much more to connect youth, families, schools and communities to the great outdoors. The tremendous experience of the National Park Service can help Americans access healthy outdoor activities and the natural world, both close to home and across the country, and help nurture lifelong relationships with our Great Outdoors.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, February 8, 2011

What Works: Canadian City Provides Recreation Opportunities for Economically Challenged Families

February 8, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Kingston, Ontario, has a Municipal Fee Assistance program which offers recreation subsidies to residents in low-income households. The city uses Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) tables to determine a household’s eligibility for the program. All those who live in households below the LICO qualify for a recreation credit of up to $300 per family member through SPARK (the Subsidy Program for Affordable Recreation in Kingston). In addition, qualifying for this program also reduces or eliminates fees for a range of community programs that partner with P.R.O. Kids (Positive Recreational Opportunities for Kids), a city charity.

“The tremendous demand we saw last year for recreational program assistance was so heartening. Kingstonians want to participate and be active – and the City is delighted to be able to help them sustain a healthy lifestyle through the Municipal Fee Assistance Program,” says Lanie Hurdle, Commissioner of Community Services.

Application for the program is annual and simple and is also linked to an assistance program for public transportation. For more information, click here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, February 2, 2011

Walking Reduces Memory Loss - Visit Your Local Park!

February 2, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Bloomberg.com reports: "Walking three times a week may improve memory in older adults and help prevent mental decline as people age, a study by U.S. researchers found.

"The study of adults ages 55 and older found a 2 percent expansion of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory processor that can shrink during middle age, in those who walked 40 minutes, three times a week, for a year. The findings are reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"As the number of people older than age 65 increases, more low-cost preventions and treatments to slow mental decline are needed, the researchers said. The study shows the typical, age- related shrinkage of the hippocampus isn’t “inevitable” and can be reversed with moderate exercise, they said.

" “You can think of this improvement as winding back the clock about two years in brain health,” said Arthur Kramer, director of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a professor of neuroscience and psychology, in a Jan. 28 telephone interview. “It really is surprising that such modest changes in somebody’s lifestyle can have such dramatic benefits. You don’t have to be an athlete to reap these benefits.”

"Researchers included 120 people from the ages of 55 to 80 who were healthy yet didn’t exercise regularly. They were divided into a group that walked three days a week and another that engaged in stretching and toning. The walkers averaged about 15 minutes a mile by the study’s end, Kramer said.

"Those who only engaged in toning and stretching saw the hippocampus decline 1.4 percent, the study found.

"More research is needed to determine what happens to the brain once exercise stops and what benefits occur for people who exercise more frequently and at higher rates of intensity than those in the study, he said."

So go take a walk in the park - there's a better chance you'll remember it!

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 31, 2011

What Works: Partnership on Lake Grapevine

January 31, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Lake Grapevine, Texas is one of several US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sites in the Fort Worth District -- serving about 6 million residents in and around Dallas. The lake has a variety of day use sites, campgrounds and marinas. In 2000, USACE, the City of Grapevine and Gaylord Hotels worked out a series of leases and subleases that are working extremely well. The agreements are very complex, and required lots of negotiation -- and the partners in the agreement continue to meet to adjust and coordinate efforts.

At the heart of the agreement was a long-term lease of Corps lands (Fee and Flowage) to the City of Grapevine for public recreation purposes. The bottom line is that the city took on operation and maintenance roles for many of the recreation sites on the lake, saving the USACE some $200,000 in annual costs. And the city has invested in these sites, improving them substantially. In addition to some fee revenue, the cost to the city is met by a sublease with Gaylord Hotels, which has built the Gaylord Texan hotel on the shoreline of Lake Grapevine, in part on an old Boy Scouts of America camp and in part on USACE land under lease to the city.

The deal is complex and it takes time to look at the entire package to assess its impact. We have, and the verdict is clear. The public is getting huge benefits in expanded and sustainable recreational access to the lake. And the Dallas-Fort Worth area has a major economic engine -- the Gaylord Texan alone has some 2,000 employees, and the agreement has also boosted employment inthe City of Grapevine parks department and with local concessioners.

Bravo to the City of Grapevine, USACE-Fort Worth District and the Gaylord Texan Hotel!

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 14, 2011

Health Care Reform Revisited: Opportunities for US

January 14, 2011 (Washington, DC) - The next Congress will almost certainly revisit the health care legislation passed in the 11th Congress. When the discussion begins, let's unite and champion some new ideas that could really help us control health care costs by getting and keeping people healthier.

Let's incentivize employers to provide assistance to employees to be physically active in the Great Outdoors. Let them count as medical expenses free park passes, loaner recreation equipment like bikes and skis (or arrangements with companies like REI or EMS that can provide that equipment). Give them some kind of tax inducement if they can meet metrics demonstrating health improvements year-to-year, like reductions in the proportion of the workforce which is overweight or obese. Seventy percent of our national health care costs are for lifestyle-induced chronic illnesses. Let's focus on reducing those costs and getting more people outdoors and connected with our parks, forests and other special places.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 13, 2011

Apply Voluntary Agriculture Marketing Orders Concept to Recreation

January 13, 2011 (Washington, DC) - For decades, producers of various crops have had the option to adopt a voluntary tax on their products and to essentially donate those funds for research, marketing and certain other purposes designed to increase the value of their crop to the public. The concept is called an agricultural marketing order, and the programs are monitored to guard against any anti-trust violations (they're not allowed to artificially raise or control prices). Industries which use this authority include milk ("Got Milk?), eggs and various nut and citrus fruit growers.

If a super-majority of the producers vote to impose the tax, it is then applied to all producers. The affected businesses elect a board that sets and spends the collected funds.

So what if a similar option was given to all mountain bike manufacturers, or to all of the producers of hand-held GPS units, or to all kayak manufacturers? There is already a federal excise tax certain recreation equipment, like on fishing gear earmarked for recreational fisheries programs and archery equipment, guns and ammunition for wildlife and ranges. These aren't marketing orders, but they serve the same purpose. These use true trust funds created in the 1930's and 1950's.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 12, 2011

Prescription: Take Hills, Not Pills

January 12, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Blogger Marc Gunther has a great new post about the obvious opportunity to use parks and other public lands to make Americans healthier -- at less cost and less invasively.

Mr. Gunther writes: "Fortunately, a loose-knit coalition of smart people are developing a creative approach to these problems [growing obesity, disconnection from nature and lack of physical activity] that combines economic incentives, environmental awareness, doctors, insurers and the National Park Service.

"The approach is called Park Prescriptions, and it’s a simple remedy: Doctors “prescribe” trips to parks, insurance companies create incentives for outdoor activity and people get outside and just feel better.

"I first heard about Park Prescriptions from Jon Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service, during a brief visit to Glacier National Park last fall organized by the Society of Environmental Journalists. A lifelong park service leader, Jon is an impressive guy who sees the link between health and the parks as a means to accomplish two goals: get more people into the parks, and help the Park Service put itself on a sounder, more sustainable financial footing."

Read the rest of Mr. Gunther's report here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 11, 2011

Forest Service, Denver Water Board Launch Partnership to Treat National Forests in Colorado

January 11, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service will to treat about 38,000 acres of critical watersheds to reduce damage to key Colorado streams and reservoirs.

The $33 million “Forest to Faucet” partnership was announced in the context of the pine beetle epidemic that’s wiped out about 3 million acres of lodgepole pine forests in the state.

Part of the Forest Service share of the funding will come from money that’s already been allocated to the Rocky Mountain region of the Forest Service but additional funds were “earned” when several national forests in Colorado competed favorably for a national forest health funds. Denver Water customers will pay for the other half of the work, seen as an effective way to prevent the huge back-end costs associated with cleaning up after a fire.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 10, 2011

NPS Director Jon Jarvis Wins Quote of the Day: Parks and Health

January 10, 2011 (Washington, DC) - From October 14's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, in an article about the "Let's Move Outside, Junior Rangers" program at Johnstown Flood National Memorial:

"Young people inspire us; we want to help them be vigorous and curious for life. It starts with family fun. National parks are amazing places where exercise is disguised as adventure, and we sneak in some learning, too," National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said.

Way to go, Jon!

The full article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review can be read here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and its IdeaJam blog. ARC’s submissions to the blog can be found if you click here. Additional ideas that have been submitted to IdeaJam can be found in our September 2010 newsletter, which is here.

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 7, 2011

Harvard Medical School Offers Prescription for Health: Get Outdoors

January 7, 2011 (Washington, DC) - From Harvard Medical School's "Healthbeat," dated October 12, 2010.

A Prescription for Better Health: GO ALFRESCO

Most of us spend the vast majority of our time inside. According to one government estimate, the average American spends 90% of his or her life indoors, and as we get older we become even more inclined not to venture out. But is all this indoor time hurting our health?
The study results are ticking up: spending time outdoors seems to have discernible benefits for physical and mental health. Granted, some are merely by association and can be achieved by other means, perhaps while indoors, but often only with a good deal more trouble and expense. Here are five potential benefits of spending more time outdoors:

1. Your vitamin D levels will go up
Exposing your skin to sunshine — actually, ultraviolet B (UVB) rays — enables the body to make vitamin D, which is why it’s also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” Research suggests vitamin D may have protective effects against everything from osteoporosis to cancer to depression to heart attacks and stroke.
Of course, it has to be sunny out, and there are some snags. Where you live, the season, and the time of day affect how much UVB reaches your skin. The farther you live from the equator, the less UVB radiation you receive. Vitamin D production is affected by age (people ages 65 and over generate about a fourth as much as people in their 20s) and skin color (African Americans have, on average, about half the levels of vitamin D in their blood as white Americans).
Another problem: sunscreens are most effective at blocking UVB light, the part of the spectrum that causes sunburn, but UVB also happens to be the kind of light that kick-starts the generation of vitamin D in the skin.
The either-or of sunscreen and sunshine vitamin has stirred up a lot of controversy and debate between pro-sunscreen dermatologists and the vitamin D camp. But there is plenty of middle ground here: some limited sun exposure on short walks and the like, supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, and liberal use of sunscreen when you are out for extended periods, particularly during the middle of the day.