Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day

Outdoor Recreation Idea of the Day, December 13, 2010

What Works: The Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act

December 13, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA), enacted in 1998, allows the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell public land around Las Vegas, Nevada. Since the late 1990's, there have been sales of BLM properties in Clark County -- the Las Vegas metro area -- of unused or underused BLM lands via auction. All proceeds of the sales remain in the area and are earmarked for key infrastructure projects and priority land acquisition, like trail corridors and lands important to multi-species habitat improvement projects. By all measures, the program has enjoyed great local support and support by federal officials in the region. It has added valuable open spaces in place of lands that previously were of low public use.

The auctions, totaling billions of dollars and astonishing many by the size of their revenue, have eliminated the challenge and controversies of land exchanges -- which have been fraught with problems, especially in Nevada. Why don't we explore whether and how this model might be applied to other areas, helping us trade lower importance lands for high value lands within a state or region?

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 10, 2010

Current Federal Budgeting Fails the Outdoors -- Multi-Year Budget Needed

December 10, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The current annual budget process creates a terrible workload for federal land agencies. Rarely are budgets passed by the start of the fiscal year -- often it is 3-4 months into the new year before a budget is enacted. Continuing Resolutions -- CRs -- prompt threats of shut-downs and temporary decisions.

Other major federal policy areas, including transportation and farm/food, have 5 year programs passed by the Congress with multi-year spending authority. Because it is difficult to build and rebuild highways and bridges one year at a time, these 5-year programs allow organizations like the Department of Transportation to write a long-term plan with confidence, and allots the proper funding to carry out that plan.

Can't we make the case that we can't care for parks and refuges and forests and more one year at a time? Imagine passage of a 5-year parks plan, or a 5-year forest plan, with oversight hearings by the Congress to measure compliance, make mid-course changes as needed and get ready for a new, cohesive next 5-year plan.

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 9, 2010

Look at Park Fees to Align Fees with Goals

December 9, 2010 (Washington, DC) - America's National Parks are generally a bargain -- a maximum of $25 per carload of people for a 7-day period, or $80 for a carload every day at every park for a year -- or even better, $10 for a lifetime once you are 62, including a companion! In some parks, it gets even cheaper. They just don't collect entrance fees except during "business hours," or not during off-season periods.

Yet fee income is more and more important to parks for operations and maintenance and key visitor services. It is time for the National Park Service and other federal agencies to develop new fee strategies which consider:

1) Making current entrance fees single day fees, with additional days at an additional -- discounted -- cost.
2) Encouraging visitation during non-peak periods by lowering entrance fees mid-week and during off-season periods (officially, not by failing to staff entrance stations).
3) Establishing an automated fee collection service or using the same technology used by highways and turnpike agencies to collect the fees.
4) Offering discounted or free access selectively to attract demographics who statistically do not derive benefits from our parks in place of the current fee free weekend programs, which is generally targeted.
5) Let visitors earn a free return pass by volunteering during their stay.
6) Allow groups of friends to make bulk buys of entrance fees and then use them as premiums for all those making contributions of $50 or more to those organizations.

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 8, 2010

Focus on the Frontcountry

December 8, 2010 (Washington, DC) - Wilderness and backcountry areas are marvelous and need protection, but the battle to connect Americans to their lands and the Great Outdoors is going to be won or lost in the frontcountry -- easily accessed places that have tangible values for picnics and walks, jogging and biking and more. The Congress has largely ignored these important areas for decades and instead focused on battle between entrenched interests on roadless areas and Wilderness, oil and gas leasing and timber harvests. Those arguments will continue, but some of us want to bring new debate and energies to much less contentious initiatives to protect open spaces near people's daily lives.

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 7, 2010

Canada's "My Parks Pass" Program

December 7, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The Parks Canada "My Parks Pass" program was announced in April 2010 by Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice. Under the initiative, Grade 8 students across Canada are permitted to enter 27 national parks and 68 national historic sites for free for 12 months. It is a joint initiative with Nature Canada and the Historica-Dominion Institute.

Harper encouraged the students to use their parks pass over the next year so they could learn more about the history and nature shared by Canadians.

"As future leaders, Canada is in your hands," he concluded. "The best way to prepare yourself to lead is to learn as much as you can about this great land we call home. Enjoy."

Seems like a great idea for US Presidents and governors to embrace!

Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and as well as AGO's 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 6, 2010

More and More Doctors are "Getting It"

December 6, 2010 (Washington, DC) - Across America, more and more doctors and health professionals are directing us to go outside to stay well and get well. At the America's Great Outdoors (AGO) session in Chicago on Health and the Great Outdoors, the Institute at the Golden Gate shared both a video documenting some of these efforts and a fabulous collection of case studies of "park prescription" initiatives underway in California, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico and more.

To see the video, go here. And to download the PDF version of the report, go here.

Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative to connect Americans to the outdoors and as well as AGO's 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 3, 2010

Help Interested Teachers Form Middle School and High School Outing Clubs

December 3, 2010 (Washington, DC) - There are many teachers in middle and high schools who have a passion for and knowledge of the Great Outdoors. And many of these same teachers are popular with students. Imagine if we could build on the National Park Service teacher/ranger/teacher program with a broader effort to support significant numbers of interested teachers who wished to create local outing clubs that met every week over lunch to learn about places to go and things to do over the next month -- and empowered with free entrance passes to pass out to students from federal, state and local parks and outdoor spaces.

Idea of the Day is inspired by the President's America's Great Outdoors Initiative 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.