Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, January 6, 2011

DOT Livability Focus is Great Opportunity -- But Action Needed

January 6, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Livability is the new buzz-word for Congressional and Administrative leaders -- and there is great opportunity for those of us who care about conservation and recreation. Obviously, we want transportation to focus on more than roads. Livability could mean expansion of programs like Transportation Enhancements (which has proven invaluable in converting abandoned railroads to trails and more) and to programs like scenic byways, the Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to Schools. But we need to be active participants in the definition of livability. A concept of livability that stops at the edges of our metropolitan areas is not enough. We must also focus on getting people out of their cars and to work, shopping destinations and school with alternative transportation.

The Department of Transportation (DOT)'s leadership understands this. Recent statements by DOT Assistant Secretary for Policy Polly Trottenberg are encouraging. The America's Great Outdoors report needs to highlight how much DOT has connected Americans to the Great Outdoors in the past two decades. DOT must build on their past successes as the parameters of livability are defined in an upcoming $500 billion, 6-year surface transportation bill expected as a Congressional priority in 2011.

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 4, 2011

National Parks, Medical Community and Shoe Company Team Up for Kids' Freedom Run

January 4, 2011 (Washington, DC) - Kids in Shepherdstown, West Virginia were given free shoes last October.

On October 2, 2010, Terra Plana and Shepherdstown's Two River Treads donated 200 pairs of shoes to children who participated in the town's Kids Fun Run. The race encouraged children to explore the outdoors. The event was non-competitive, letting participants "walk, run, or stroll" the mile-long race. Afterwards, participants were encouraged to bring their families along on hikes of the local state parks, which included Antietam National Battlefield, CC&O Canal National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

"We are thrilled to be included in this event, as it demonstrates not only the importance of child foot health, but gets kids engaged in the outdoors. A healthy lifestyle should be both fun and accessible to all kids," said Galahad Clark, owner of Terra Plana. "The race sends an important message while helping to fund the Wild and Wonderful Trails, which is making this a reality." To read Jason Mansfield's original article in the West Virginia newspaper The Journal, 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, December 23, 2010

Planning for Our National Forests

December 23, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The Forest Service is going through an elaborate process to develop a Planning Rule which will guide planning efforts by national forests in the future. These forests cover 190 million acres and host hundreds of millions of recreation visits each year. The Planning Rule process has included Federal Register notices, a science forum, public roundtables and more.

Recreation community leaders met with Tom Tidwell, Chief of the Forest Service, in September to praise the process but underscore that major change is needed to keep national forests relevant to Americans in the 21st Century. While we agree that the Planning Rule can't go into great detail about treating recreation in the forests, we do believe that the Rule needs to signal a change in managing recreation. The Forest Service must plan a strong direction to utilize state programs, volunteers, concessioners and permittees. They must also facilitate an atmosphere of cooperation among recreationists in the forests, moving away from the current system in which all-too-frequent clashes that occur between and among competing recreation interests.

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, December 22, 2010

Making Park Fees More Manageable

December 22, 2010 (Washington, DC) - When Congress passed the Federal Recreation Lands Enhancement Act (FLREA) in 2004, providing five federal agencies with fee retention authority and more, it also provided authority for some important additional fee programs. It allowed volunteers to earn a nationwide pass and included an option to make fees simple for other parkgoers -- with regional passes that would cover federal, state and even local entrance fees with the same pass. Lots of models have been developed for a general park pass. Some model the fast pass systems now used for tolls on highways, and some model hunting and fishing passes that use the addition of a stamp on the America the Beautiful pass.

The FLREA fee authority expires in 2014. No action has yet been taken by the Federal Interagency Fee Task Force. Let's encourage a 2014 update of FLREA.

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, December 21, 2010

Park Partnerships Under Duress

December 21, 2010 (Washington, DC) - Wonderful partnerships are at work in America's National Parks working to protect the parks and helping to create life-long memories. Many of these partners are non-profits like NatureBridge and the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy. Other partners are businesses operating in or near the parks. But across the board, these partners are finding that red tape is growing dramatically, challenging even long-standing relationships. Fear of U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Inspector General (IG) investigations is prompting the National Park Service to shorten the terms of agreements with their partners -- even as they are asking more of these partners -- and putting each agreement through hoop after hoop of local, regional and national clearance.

The House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing on Parks and Partnerships on 9/23 and got an earful. The Congress needs to take action soon to overcome the surge in barriers to partnerships and to send a clear signal that creativity in "doing the right thing" by park superintendents will not only be tolerated but applauded.

For copies of the testimony detailing the problems facing park partners, go 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, December 20, 2010

What Works: A Dollar a Day

December 20, 2010 (Washington, DC) - Concessioners in about ten national parks offer guests a chance to make a $1 per night contribution to help fund projects in those parks. The money is deposited with the National Park Foundation and then returned to be spent on park projects selected by the local park or the local park and a local friends group. Guests can choose to drop the contribution at check-out.

Over the past five years, some $1.1 million has been raised -- more than $310,000 last year alone.

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, December 17, 2010

A Bank Account for Future Recreation Programs?

December 17, 2010 (Washington, DC) - President Obama announced a plan for moving ahead on a 6-year surface transportation program which would embrace a concept he referenced in his Presidential campaign: an infrastructure bank which would raise private capital for transportation projects and guarantee the repayment of those funds with a relatively small federal deposit. This would be his way to "front load" the surface transportation program and create more employment without adding to the federal deficit. And the federal guarantee makes the private capital available at low rates.

If the White House likes the idea of an infrastructure bank for roads and railroads, would they also like the idea of an infrastructure bank for parks and other federal recreation sites where entrance fees, user fees and other payments could be earmarked for repayment of the funding? Possible examples of projects could include utilities, campgrounds, marinas, lodges and restaurant facilities.

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, December 16, 2010

What Works: Shuttle Service to the National Recreation Area

December 16, 2010 (Washington, DC) - East Stroudsburg-area Pennsylvanians enjoyed easy access to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (NRA) on Saturdays this fall.

The National Park Service and the Monroe County Transit Authority teamed up to provide free "Pocono Pony" shuttle buses to the park -- buses that included a park ranger on board who could suggest places to go in the NRA or simply answered questions.

“Enjoy the fall weather by taking a hike on one of our many trails, spend a day at the beach, pack a picnic or go fishing, visit Pocono Environmental Education Center and attend one of their many programs, or bring your bike and take a ride on the McDade Trail,” suggested NRA Superintendent John Donahue.

Funding for the buses, which could tote bicycles as well, came from the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in the Parks Program. The shuttles from East Stroudsburg ran to several locations within the park starting on September 25 and continued each Saturday through October 30. Schedules and route information can be found at the Monroe County Transit Authority website at www.gomcta.com/schedules.htm.

Information about Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area upcoming events and programs is available on the park’s website (www.nps.gov/dewa).

Thanks to the DWGNRA park leadership and the Paul Sarbanes Transit in the Parks program for making this possible -- and to the National Parks Traveler (www.nationalparkstraveler.com) for highlighting this news.

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, December 15, 2010

What Works: Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program

December 15, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) was established in 2002 and reauthorized in 2009. It provides matching grants to state and local governments to protect lands with significant conservation, recreation, ecological, historical and/or aesthetic values which are threatened by conversion. Priority is given to projects which can be effectively managed and protected and which use leveraged funds.

Since 2002, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administers the program, has awarded more than $230 million for projects in 27 of the 34 eligible states, protecting more than 50,000 acres. More information on the project is here.

This program is noteworthy for several reasons. First, states need to nominate projects and relate them to their state Coastal Zone Management Program and related plans. Second, each project needs to demonstrate need, secured matching funds and landowner willingness to sell. Third, the projects are reviewed and ranked by teams of public and private sector experts independent of NOAA's analysis. And finally, the prioritized list is presented to the Congress, which then appropriates money annually for the projects -- and the Congress determines how far down the prioritized list they will reach with its funding level. No pork-barrel or earmarking -- the projects are funded according to the reviewers' priorities.

Good example of a strategic use of federal dollars to boost conservation!

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, December 14, 2010

A Free Day at the Park for South Africa

December 14, 2010 (Washington, DC) - From Monday, 13 September until Friday, 17 September, South African National Parks (SANParks) allowed locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge. According to SANParks General Manager Reynold Thakhuli, the objective of the week was to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, under the established theme “Know Your National Parks.”

The national parks focus week started in 2006 because a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks. “SANParks then embarked upon this campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what SANParks envisions to be “the pride and joy of all South Africans and the world.”

“Environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, not just a privileged few. If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access,” said Thakhuli. “We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future,” added Thakhuli.

Bravo, South African National Parks!!!!

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.