Sen. Amy Klobuchar Earns Coleman Great Outdoors Award
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., received the 2012 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, the recreation community’s most prestigious award, at a special Great Outdoors Week celebration on June 6. The award is presented to individuals whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences across America, according to a news release.
A panel of 100 national recreation community leaders, ranging from corporate executives to key federal and state officials and nonprofit organization community leaders, chose Klobuchar to be this year’s winner. The award was created in 1989 to honor the life-long efforts of Sheldon Coleman, whose engineering, marketing and advocacy talents made coolers, lanterns and tents bearing his name ubiquitous on America’s public lands. Klobuchar is the fifth woman, and the first woman serving in Congress, to receive the honor.
Sen. Klobuchar’s selection reflects widespread enthusiasm within the recreation community for her efforts supporting recreation.
“She has been especially active in supporting recreation programs aided by provisions of the nation’s surface transportation program,” according to American Recreation Coalition President Derrick Crandall. “She committed to Minnesota and national trail interests that she would lead efforts to overturn the treatment of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) in legislation approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee-passed legislation ended the user pay-user benefit provision for RTP established by Congress in 1991, instead relegating recreational trail projects to competition for funding among a broad category of authorized non-highway projects. State park officials joined trail interests in warning that this path would effectively end the RTP program.”
The senator worked closely with recreation interests to develop a floor amendment which would reauthorize the RTP unchanged, challenging senior Senators of both parties. “The odds appeared long,” Crandall reported, “but Sen. Klobuchar assembled a remarkable bipartisan coalition of Senators committed to her amendment. Even while preparing for a floor fight, she pursued acceptance of her language by the legislation’s floor manager – acceptance she eventually secured. The result was Senate passage in early 2012 of new surface transportation legislation which continues the RTP program at a guaranteed funding level of $85 million annually and no significant changes.”
The Minnesota senator also was a key champion of the Travel Promotion Act, passed in 2010, which created the exciting Brand USA campaign. With active support from the White House and the National Park Service, Brand USA is committed to recovering the USA’s traditional share of the international tourism market. With $100 million per annum in dedicated, matching federal funding, Brand USA efforts are expected to generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs and new sustainability for many communities near parks and other public and tribal lands.
The Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Awards was presented at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, which is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The award is an original work entitled Mountain Spirit by Darrell Norman, a Blackfeet artist in Montana. Past award recipients include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, former President George H. W. Bush, National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor, then-U.S. Sens. John Breaux, Frank Murkowski and John Chafee, then-U.S. Reps. Jim Oberstar and Ralph Regula and U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort Chairman and CEO Dick Bass and former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.