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Crandall: How Sequester Impacts RV Industry

June 13, 2013 by · Comments Off on Crandall: How Sequester Impacts RV Industry 

Derrick Crandall, ARC president

Editor’s Note: Derrick Crandall, president and CEO of the American Recreation Coalition (ARVC) provided the following opinion piece for RVBUSINESS.COM.

America’s Great Outdoors – national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and more – cover a third of our nation and attract a billion recreation visits annually, and more than 7,000 state parks draw another 720 million visits annually. Together, they manage tens of thousands of campsites and inspire countless RV purchases and rentals. That’s why the RV industry needs to be concerned, informed and involved when tight budgets threaten late openings, visitor centers and interpretation cuts – even closures.

Should we be concerned? Yes. Funding for federal campgrounds, trails on public lands, visitor centers and other facilities is considered domestic discretionary spending – and that is the part of the budget most impacted by deficit cuts. Spending on defense and “entitlements” (Social Security, healthcare, etc.) crowds out spending on parks, and crowding will increase when interest rates on the federal debt escalate to more traditional levels.

In 2013, the media reported delays in snow plowing needed to open major parks like Yellowstone and Glacier as well as a moratorium on filling 1,000 National Park Service (NPS) jobs, furloughing U.S. park police and reduced hiring of park “seasonals”– typically assigned to serve visitors.  This is bad news because potential park visitors, having heard the news, in some cases have decided to forgo park visits this year and, perhaps, RV purchase and rental plans at the same time. In addition, clearly, the cutbacks could reduce park visitation quality.

But these challenges have some silver linings:

#1 — Park funding needs a new financial model. Ninety percent of the NPS budget relies on general tax receipts. Entrance fees, campground fees and other market-driven funding total only about $1 per visitor. Other thriving leisure destinations, including theme parks, cost $75 or more per person per day. Americans will pay for great experiences – especially if the alternative is to close parks. Congress and agency heads now understand this.

#2 — National parks and other sites need “make-overs.” Camping in national parks is inexpensive, offering incredible access to scenic places. Yet consider this: NPS campgrounds hosted more than 4 million overnight stays in RVs in 1987, but just 2.1 million in 2012. Why? NPS campsites don’t suit today’s RVers. There are few pull-through sites, and almost no hookups. Slideouts often don’t fit. Few campgrounds have dump stations. Very few offer cabins, yurts or rentable park models. “Make-over plans” using private investment are under way.

#3 — Unlike national park lodges, marinas and restaurants, most public park campgrounds are federally staffed. This approach is costly and ignores the investment and training that concessioners provide. This summer, visitors arriving at facilities operated by concessioners will see absolutely no decline in services. A strong coalition is now calling for a big change in park campground staffing.

Community efforts got roads plowed so visitors could enter Yellowstone National Park and behold wonders such as Old Faithful.

#4 — Threats of delayed openings prompted local gateway communities to act. They funded snow plowing crews to get Yellowstone open on time and kept a visitor center at Cape Cod open. Discussions are now under way in many parks about cooperative efforts to meet visitor needs.

#5 — America’s Great Outdoors has unfortunately lost market share. Until recently, top federal managers were unconcerned. Now, the NPS is so concerned about declining visitation that it has under way a major outreach and promotional campaign tied to its 2016 centennial, which is likely to be comparable in size to Go RVing!

#6 — Agencies – and Congress – have learned the price of inflexible cuts imposed by sequestration, which sliced spending 5% at every park, forest and program – with almost no ability to be selective. That inflexibility is unlikely to be repeated as we look at long-term spending limits.

#7 — There are creative ways to provide great park visitor experiences at less cost to American taxpayers. A recent report by Resources For the Future documented actions by state parks – which depend much more on visitor fees. Ending construction of large visitor centers that are expensive to operate and relying more on technology to provide visitor information is here instead.

#8 — NPS charges the same entrance fee in both high and low seasons. Fees are for a car load – $25 or less – and for seven days across the board. The growing international market gets subsidized visits just as American taxpayers do. All Americans over 62 get free, life-time access to federal recreation sites for a one-time payment of $10. But fee reform is coming.

#9 — There is strong bipartisan Congressional support for parks. The NPS centennial is uniting these supporters and creates opportunities – like a new Penny for Parks and the Great Outdoors program. One cent of any new federal fuel tax dedicated to public lands could make travels to and through parks and public lands easier and safer.

#10 — The economics of the RV industry – and recreation overall – are better understood today than ever before. The president and all 50 governors, in proclaiming June as Great Outdoors Month, touted recreation’s $650 billion economic impact. Brand USA is touting parks and the Great Outdoors as a reason to visit America – and it is working. One job is created for every 35 international visitors we attract, and about one in five visitors already visits one or more national park. The president established a goal of 100 million international visitors by 2021, up from 60 million now. Last year, international visitation grew nearly 8% – ahead of this goal.

In summary, stakes are high. Parks and the Great Outdoors have helped the RV industry for decades. Fixing current problems and using doors now open to us can continue this for decades to come.

 

Sen. Alexander Receiving ARC Coleman Award

June 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on Sen. Alexander Receiving ARC Coleman Award 

Sen. Lamar Alexander

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander will receive the 2013 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, the recreation community’s most prestigious award, at a special Great Outdoors Week celebration on Wednesday (June 5).

The award was created in 1989 to honor the lifelong efforts of Sheldon Coleman, whose engineering, marketing and advocacy talents made coolers, lanterns and tents bearing his name ubiquitous on America’s public lands, according to a news release.

Alexander chaired the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors (PCAO) on which Coleman served, making this year’s honor especially noteworthy.

The award honors individuals whose personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences across America. National recreation community leaders chose Sen. Alexander to be this year’s winner.

Alexander is the only Tennessean popularly elected both governor and U.S. senator. He has been U.S. secretary of education and president of the University of Tennessee. He chaired the National Governors Association and, with his wife Honey, founded Corporate Child Care Inc., which has evolved into the world’s largest provider of worksite daycare. As governor, Lamar Alexander focused on sustainable economic growth, leading Tennessee to become the third largest auto producer while protecting open space and improving water quality.

“Sen. Alexander led PCAO’s articulation of a strategy for recreation at a critical time – when political fractiousness over natural resource matters and tight federal and state budgets raised the threat of public recreation program cutbacks. PCAO’s advocacy of greenways and scenic byways, of recreation as a priority for federal land-managing agencies previously commodity-focused, of expanded volunteerism and a new emphasis on outdoor ethics, of strategies for paying for federal recreation services and of a new era of private/public partnerships inspired action in Washington and across the nation,” according to Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), which hosts the award presentation.

The senator has also been a champion of National Park Service Centennial efforts, working to equip NPS to be relevant and effective in its second century. He keynoted the first-ever America’s Summit on National Parks and has spoken out about the health challenges facing Americans – and especially youth – because of obesity and lessened physical activity, and the role of recreation as a cost-effective remedy.

“The recreation community applauds the Senator’s leadership in securing additional funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and championing another national recreation policy review. He helped lead the Outdoor Resources Review Group, an independent blue ribbon panel operating from 2008 to 2009. His efforts helped catalyze President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative,” Crandall added. “As they enjoy time in the Great Outdoors, millions of Americans and international visitors benefit from Lamar Alexander’s vision and energies.”

The 2013 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award is an original work titled Crow Dance by Darrell Norman, a Blackfeet artist in Montana. Past award recipients include former Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Dirk Kempthorne, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, 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. Representative Tom Petri, and former Transportation Secretaries Norman Mineta and Rodney Slater.

Great Outdoors Week/Month Begin June 1st

May 30, 2013 by · Comments Off on Great Outdoors Week/Month Begin June 1st 

Excitement is growing across the nation about plans for Great Outdoors Week and Great Outdoors Month starting Saturday (June 1).

According to a news release, Great Outdoors Month celebrates a variety of important events and actions that occur during June, and highlights the benefits of active fun outdoors and our magnificent shared resources of forests, parks, refuges and other public lands and waters. Great Outdoors Week (June 1-8) showcases efforts enhancing outdoor recreation for all Americans in the 21st century through awards, briefings and other events in the Nation’s Capital.

Great Outdoors Week is coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and includes events co-hosted by more than a dozen federal agencies and national organizations:

  • Great Outdoors Week’s action-packed schedule begins on Monday with presentation of the Beacon Awards – honoring innovative uses of technology in public lands management to boost visitor experiences and to better manage visits – at the Department of the Interior’s Stewart Udall Building followed by the week’s opening reception – an ice cream social.
  • On Tuesday, ARC’s Legends Awards, honoring outstanding public land management employees, will precede the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange Luncheon. That same day, the Recreational Trails Program award ceremony and briefing will be held on Capitol Hill.
  • On Wednesday, the Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award will be presented to a leading public figure whose personal efforts have significantly enhanced opportunities for others to enjoy the outdoors and a special program on the National Mall will focus on Healthy Food in Parks and the role of recreation in a happy, healthy nation.
  • On Saturday, public and private partners across the nation will team up to help tens of thousands of youth have fun outdoor adventures, typically close by the urban homes of these youth. Federal agencies, state and local park agencies, recreation businesses, healthcare companies and enthusiast groups will host National Get Outdoors Day events at nearly 150 locations and help these youth and their families begin a new chapter of their lives exploring and enjoying the incredible shared legacy of America’s Great Outdoors.

For more information, see www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org/.

Great Outdoors Month will again highlight important initiatives across the country helping Americans pursue healthier, outdoor lives. These initiatives include National Trails Day (June 1), National Fishing and Boating Week (June 1-9), the Great American Backyard Campout (June 22), National Get Outdoors Day (June 8), and more. Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day will also be celebrated across the nation on June 8.

A large coalition of outdoor recreation leaders has once again asked the President, all 50 governors and other key officials to proclaim June as Great Outdoors Month. The proclamations provide nationwide attention to the economic importance of recreation and the special role of the Great Outdoors in re-establishing the U.S. as a major destination for international visitors. The nation’s health community is also increasingly vocal regarding the benefits of active time in the Great Outdoors as key to better health, better education and support for conservation.

ARC Criticizes Yosemite Park Management Plan

May 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on ARC Criticizes Yosemite Park Management Plan 

Yosemite Valley can feel like a bustling town at times, with traffic jams, wailing emergency sirens, and tour buses and tractor-trailer trucks snaking along the roads. While Yosemite National Park planners are trying to better manage some of that crowding, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) fears they’re going too far and threatening the visitor experience, National Parks Traveler reported.

In comments filed in response to the park’s draft Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, ARC President Derrick Crandall stated that, “We strongly object to reductions in visitor experience opportunities in Yosemite, an outcome under each of the offered alternatives in the proposed plan. We believe that the NPS has failed to meet the requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to offer any alternative that would add to the opportunities for quality visitor experiences in the park.”

Click here to read the entire story.

 

ARC’s Crandall Reporting on Natl. Rec Meeting

May 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on ARC’s Crandall Reporting on Natl. Rec Meeting 

Derrick Crandall, ARC president

Editor’s Note: The following report comes from Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARVC).

The leadership of seven federal agencies met for a full day on April 29 in Washington to determine priorities for FY2013-14 and discuss AGO.2 – the second term AGO efforts and the likely active involvement of new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The meeting was chaired by the current chair of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR), Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. Other key participants included Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes, the AGO senior counselor team (CEQ’s Jay Jensen, USDA’s Robert Bonnie, DOI’s Will Shafroth and USACE’s Mary Coulombe), Acting BLM Director Neil Kornze, USFWS Deputy Director Steve Guertin, USACE Chief of Operations James Hannon, Bureau of Reclamation Acting Deputy Commissioner Dionne Thompson and NOAA Assistant Administrator Dr. Holly Bamford.

The meeting opened with comments by David Hayes who told the group that Sally Jewell “will be great for outdoor recreation” and emphasized the support within the Administration for the AGO agenda of landscape-scale conservation, youth connection to the outdoors, rivers and recreation. In a message repeated by other senior Administration officials during the day, he called for tangible achievements and action. He noted the recent Congressional action to prevent furloughs at the FAA and warned that federal programs which are “unseen and unloved are forgotten” and will fare poorly.

Jon Jarvis

Each of the agency leads then shared ideas and news of recent, relevant activity. I was heartened by Jon Jarvis’ remarks. He noted that Stephen Mather “was a marketing guy who had built the 20-mule team Borax brand, and then went to work on a campaign for national parks, enlisting the nation’s top artists and politicians and news media to build a constituency for parks.” He told the group that we faced the need to take similar actions to rebuild the parks constituency as we approach 2016, and pledged a “big tent” effort which would benefit all federal land and water managers and state and local park programs. He outlined the Grey effort, noting that it was being done without appropriated funds through the National Park Foundation, and described the advisory committee charged with helping to guide Grey and the overall NPS centennial effort. He told the group that we have great opportunities, including relating federal great outdoors programs to health, education and more.

I was invited to be part of a three-person panel which really marked FICOR’s initial outreach to external partners. Joining me was Kirk Bailey of the Outdoor Industry Association and Aaron Wodin-Schwartz of BrandUSA. I was specifically asked to: (1) share the findings of the research done in June 2012 of likely voters regarding national parks and the Great Outdoors and what the results mean for FICOR agencies and (2) details on the efforts we have underway on sustainable supplemental funding for parks and the Great Outdoors. I used my invitation to also raise the issue of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, and the ideas raised in the April 25 letter urging a policymaker-level engagement on FLREA with key constituents in recreation and tourism. My presentation is attached.

I’m delighted to tell you that there is very high interest in our messages. There were many questions on the use of the “hot buttons” detected in the Hart/Northstar survey. I explained that the universal support for parks was achieved in part by stressing different attributes of parks. Those who self-identified as Democrats generally showed high interest in protection of landscapes and wildlife, while self-identified Republicans showed a somewhat higher interest in parks as vacation and recreation locations for kids and families and as ways to our history and heritage.

Study: Park Label

I explained to the group that our study referenced national parks but that we are aware that Americans frequently apply a “park” label to attractive natural areas, regardless of the managing agency or Congressionally applied name. We spent time discussing the merits of trying to improve the accuracy of the public’s understanding of management roles – I strongly urged them to instead focus on telling stories and using the stories and partners to yield information on agency identities.

I raised the FLREA issue, noting that it was an important revenue stream today and could be a bigger stream in the future – but that reauthorization of the legislation faced “bumps” and would miss an opportunity to consider significant improvements in fee efforts – from pricing that reflected demand to lower cost and higher convenience fee collection processes to aggressive imbedding of fees into vacation packages sold online and by travel brokers. Most importantly, I told the FICOR principals that they needed to become involved as policymakers, meeting with park and recreation interests, to build a unified force on fees.

Tom Tidwell

Lunch followed, and I had informal discussions with Jon Jarvis, Tom Tidwell, Neil Kornze and others. I was delighted when Tom Tidwell asked when we would be ready to actually have Airstream Villages in FS campgrounds – remembering the message we delivered several years ago that campers wanted choices other than bring your own RV or tent. Neil asked how we could have “virtual passports” for kids to cater to an agency that has few visitor centers, in an era when smartphones know exactly where they are and can record visits digitally. My sense is that we have never had more opportunity to get action, to establish new partnerships and to change a downhill spiral in agency-funded efforts into a positive trajectory through private investment and operation, through joint marketing and promotion and through a shared commitment to making the Great Outdoors relevant to all Americans.

 

Outdoor Industry Sees Good Support

March 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on Outdoor Industry Sees Good Support 

Members of the recreation community are upbeat about the strength of public support for federal recreation programs but also concerned about the effects of possible budget cuts. According to a report in RV Executive Today Online, they plan to lobby Congress to reauthorize the law allowing fees to be collected on federal recreational lands, and they’ll also push for creation of an international version of the America the Beautiful Pass to generate additional revenue.

These were some of the major issues discussed at this year’s Partners Outdoors, an annual gathering of recreation-related public and private organizations. Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs Brett Richardson represented the association. The event was sponsored by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), which RVDA supports, and drew more than 100 participants.

Partners Outdoors attendees were buoyed by recent surveys showing both public and Congressional support for the nation’s parks, and by a report from the Outdoor Industry Association showing that Americans spend $646 billion annually on outdoor recreation, supporting 6.1 million jobs and generating $80 billion in tax revenue.

Three topics were considered during the conference:

  • Securing dependable funding for recreation programs on federal lands.
  • Increasing the number of international visitors to America’s outdoors.
  • Using federal transportation programs to aid recreation.

Participants agreed that reauthorization of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), which expires in December 2014, is of fundamental concern to all national recreation interests. FLREA has enabled federal agencies to collect more than $300 million annually in fees.

Other recommendations that Partners Outdoors will take to the feds include an international park pass that would raise revenues and enhance foreign visitors’ experience in U.S. parks, and expansion of concessionaires and permitees. Congress has already signaled its support for the latter idea by allowing year-long service in U.S. Forest Service ski areas.

In addition, conference attendees agreed that federal recreation agencies should build alliances with the Department of Defense and investigate whether military engineers could help with deferred maintenance on public lands. Internet access on federal lands also needs to be improved.

USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman challenged Partners Outdoors participants to reject the status quo and not accept federal budget cuts that could harm federal recreational lands. He reported on several innovative partnerships among the Forest Service, utilities, and major corporations.

Partners Outdoors participants  included the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Association of State Park Directors, leadership from six federal agencies, and representatives from  recreation businesses and non-profits.

Rogers and Crandall to Speak at RVIA Meeting

March 1, 2013 by · Comments Off on Rogers and Crandall to Speak at RVIA Meeting 

Jim Rogers, CEO of Kampgrounds of America Inc.

Derrick Crandall,  president of the American Recreation Coalition

Jim Rogers, chairman of Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), will provide “A Campground Outlook” during the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) 2013 Annual Meeting, set for March 4-7 at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Rogers’ presentation will be on March 5, the same day that Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), will provide an outlook for outdoor recreation on federal lands.

The four-day event will give association members the opportunity to learn more about association activities, attend informative seminars and network with business colleagues.

“We’re looking forward to a great event,” RVIA President Richard Coon stated in a news release. “We’ve compressed the schedule this year to minimize the time away from the office while maintaining a compelling agenda featuring instructive seminars and association reports as well as entertaining social and networking events.”

Monday (March 4) is the major day of arrival with attendees officially kicking off the event at the Newcomers and Welcome Reception that evening. The board of directors will convene for their meeting earlier that afternoon.

The following day will be the focal point of the annual meeting. It begins with an Alumni Breakfast followed by a series of in-depth seminars throughout the remainder of the morning that focus on issues of key interest to industry members.

Besides Rogers, these sessions will include “An Economic Outlook” with Lowell Catlett, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University; and a panel discussion on “Succeeding in Today’s RV Market” with Mark Beecher, Bank of the West; Phil Ingrassia, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA); Bob Martin, Thor Industries; Bill Osborne, Navistar RV; and Martin Street, Stag-Parkway.

RVIA will host the Annual Membership Meeting that afternoon from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. This will include reports on important association and industry topics from RVIA Chairman Doug Gaeddert, Coon, RVIA Vice President of Administration Mac Bryan, and RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst.

The day concludes with the Chairman’s Reception and Dinner where Past Chairman Gregg Fore will be honored for his service in the association’s top volunteer position.

Staff will assist attendees with the options of playing golf or taking tours of Universal Studios or Disneyworld on Wednesday, March 6, before departing on Thursday, March 7.

RVIA’s Strategic Planning Committee and Executive Committee will hold meetings prior to the official kickoff of the Annual Meeting on Sunday and the morning of Monday.

 

ARC’s Crandall: Be Proactive in Sequestration

February 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on ARC’s Crandall: Be Proactive in Sequestration 

Derrick Crandall, NPHA counselor

The prevailing opinion in the outdoor hospitality industry is that efforts to reduce federal spending by cutting back on all government services, including the nation’s public lands, will be bad for private RV parks and campgrounds as well.

The deadline to avoid implementation of the so-called sequestration is Thursday (Feb. 29). Otherwise, the cutbacks take effect on Friday.

“I wish I could tell you there will be no impact,” Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), told Woodall’s Campground Management. “The impact will be a lot less than a lot of the hype in the media, and less than the impact of rising gasoline prices over the last month.”

However, he said the current crisis is a good time for the private sector (RV park and campground owners as well as RV manufacturers) to be proactive with the federal government and help scrutinize their expenditures.

“Owners can sit back and accept those cuts, then complain to members of Congress or they can look for a sustainable solition to become a partner with federal programs we would like to make  sustainable, no matter what happens,” Crandall said.

“First of all, whether or not sequestration happens in its current form, we’re looking at a lean period for budgets of National Park Service (NPS) and other public land providers,” Crandall said. “Sequestration gets all the (current) spotlight, but the overall budget projections for federal agencies that now serve a billion visitors are not good for the next several years. It is an issue that everybody in the recreation field should be looking at.”

The private sector is good at operating on reduced budgets – businesses routinely do so during lean times, Crandall said, but the concept is almost alien to the federal government.

“Most of us had our personal budgets affected by the downturn in the economy starting in 2007,” he said, “but the recovery spending of 2008-2010 allowed the federal agencies to continue without any impact from the recession.”

Crandall opposes across-the-board cuts in agencies like the National Park Service, because such cuts would cut “muscle and bone as well as fat.”

Instead, Crandall is taking this opportunity to ask agencies like the NPS, which faces a $115 million cutback via sequestration, to work with the private sector for the betterment of both.

ARC is asking groups known in the industry as destination marketing organizations (DMOs), such as chambers of commerce and convention and visitors and bureaus, located near federal lands to begin deploying some of their financial resources to public lands.

For example:

  • In Bend Ore., an area with several national forests, ARC suggests DMOs use some of their advertising dollars to help with mountain bike patrols, apps and websites and sponsor joint programs. Rangers could be paid by the private sector to give interpretative programs at nearby privately owned campgrounds.

Something akin to this already occurs on cruises to Alaska in which NPS rangers come aboard the ships in Glacier Bay and elsewhere to talk about glaciers and whales. The service is paid by the cruise lines.

“It’s time for campgrounds to say if it would enhance the experience of our guests by having a park service ranger coming in to give presentations, now is the time we should pick up some of the costs,” Crandall said.

Crandall said the NPS collects $300 million in fees annually but could expand that by more than enough to offset the 5% cutback that is coming through sequestration just by making entrance fees more reasonable. The biggest parks charge $25 per vehicle, no matter whether it contains two people or eight people and no matter whether they’re staying for an afternoon or a week.

An airport charges for parking based on length of stay; parks should begin doing the same, he said.

“It’s time for us to say if you go into Yosemite and spend a week, you pay more than for a family that spends an afternoon there. The American public is willing to pay more in entrance fees and to campsites if they know the agencies will give them good value,” he said.

The NPS derives 93% of its operating funds from government appropriations; that percentage should come down as users pay more of their fair share, Crandall argued.

In a similar vein, “International visitors probably should pay more or not be able to buy an America the Beautiful pass that is good for a year for $80. International visitors need to pay something (a premium) that reflects American taxpayers are helping to pay for national parks. It’s time to no longer subsidize those visits to national parks.”

He’ll raise this argument again next week when he addresses the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) at the RVIA’s annual meeting in Florida.

Statue of Liberty Dilemma

The government’s outdated way of doing business in times of disaster, such as following Superstorm Sandy last fall, is another example of how the federal government should amend its ways, Crandall said.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which provide the federal government $20 million in concessioner franchisee fees annually, were closed immediately following the storm and remain closed. The closing has led to the layoff of 500 workers who manned the ferry service and work with private concessioners. The ferry service was halted because docks on the island were damaged.

Yet, the day after the storm hit, concessioners met with NPS officials and offered to rebuild the docks. NPS said “thanks” but let’s wait until the Congress acts with disaster relief, Crandall explained.

Eventually, Congress passed legislation to provide the funding to return the island to normal.

“Sometime before 2014, we’ll have the Statue of Liberty reopened to the public,” Crandall said, but it could be much sooner if the government had followed private enterprise’s lead.

Similarly, Crandall said the Statue of Liberty could be run more like a business if its hours of operation were extended. Until the storm hit, the last boat of the day left at 3:30 p.m.

“If we kept the Statue open until 10 p.m., you could see beautiful sunsets over New York Harbor and increase annual visitation of 4 million to 5 million or 6 million,” Crandall estimated. This increased visitation would raise current venue of $80 million by another $20 million to $30 million, he said.

 

Derrick Crandall to Address RVIA in Orlando

February 15, 2013 by · Comments Off on Derrick Crandall to Address RVIA in Orlando 

Derrick Crandall, American Recreation Coalition president

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Annual Membership Meeting, set for the afternoon of March 5 at the association’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., will provide an in-depth briefing on association activities for attendees, according to a news release.

RVIA Chairman of the Board Doug Gaeddert and RVIA President Richard Coon will discuss the state of the association and speak on a range of topics including government relations, RV standards, industry education, the RV market outlook and RVIA-sponsored trade shows. RVIA Treasurer Derald Bontrager will detail the association’s financial situation.

There will also be a review of the industry’s programs to promote RV travel and camping. RVIA Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising James Ashurst will report on the successful first year of the Go RVing “AWAY” national advertising campaign, preview plans for 2013, and highlight the media coverage being generated by RVIA’s public relations efforts.

American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall will update attendees on the efforts of his organization to address key outdoor recreation issues at the federal level.

RVIA will also honor industry and association leaders by presenting a host of awards, including the Distinguished Service to the RV Industry Award, at the meeting.

RVIA’s Annual Meeting, taking place from March 4-7 at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, provides association members the opportunity to learn more about association activities, attend informative seminars, and network with business colleagues at numerous social events. In addition to the RVIA Membership Meeting, other event highlights include the Newcomers and Welcome Reception on the evening of March 4 and the Chairman’s Reception and Dinner taking place the evening of March 5.

Annual meeting attendees will also have the option of playing golf or taking tours of Universal Studios or Disneyworld on Wednesday, March 6. Staff will assist attendees to obtain tee times or schedule the tours. These activities are optional and not included in the meeting registration. Attendees will depart on March 7.

Located in Universal’s Orlando Resort, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel lets guests experience the sights and sounds of the Italian Riviera while providing AAA Four Diamond Award winning accommodations, amenities and exclusive resort benefits.

For more information or to register for the event, contact RVIA’s Huyen Dang at hdang@rvia.org or (703) 620-6003 (ext. 305).

News from the American Recreation Coalition

February 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on News from the American Recreation Coalition 

Following are highlights from the January/February issue of the American Recreation Coalition’s (ARC) newsletter:

SALLY JEWELL NAMED AS INTERIOR SECRETARY CHOICE

Sally Jewell

President Barack Obama will nominate Sally Jewell to serve as the next Secretary of the Interior. She is currently president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), and an active leader of the recreation and conservation communities. She has been a strong supporter of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, and worked with former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne on efforts to boost funding for our national parks in conjunction with the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. She is also a major supporter of the Western Governors Association’s Get Out West initiative.

Read More <http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2930#Interior>

NPS GEARS UP FOR CUTS

The Office of Management and Budget has directed all non-DOD federal departments to plan for a 5% mandatory spending reduction for the current fiscal year. This is the temporarily avoided “fiscal cliff” of Jan. 1 returning, but tempered from the original mandatory 8.2% cut which would have occurred then. National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis sent regional directors instructions to be transmitted to park superintendents outlining priorities for reducing spending.

Read More <http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2930#Cuts>

BRIDGEBUILDER EVENT ON PARK FUNDING

On March 19, the Bipartisan Policy Center will join with the National Park Hospitality Association and the National Parks Conservation Association for a free, half-day “Bridgebuilder Session” to identify tools to aid America’s national parks in the 21st century and to prepare well-crafted proposals to the Congress and the Administration for making these tools available. Some of these tools will require new legislative authority – perhaps as part of legislation clarifying goals for the National Park Service in its second century of operation. Others may be achievable through new policies and regulations. Tools range from an earmarked penny in federal motorfuel taxes to revisions in park entrance fees, from increased use of historic tax credits to expanded volunteerism and philanthropy. Many of the tools would also benefit other federal lands.

Read More <http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2930#Bridgebuilder>

EFFORTS TO ENHANCE CELL AND WI-FI SERVICE IN PARKS UNDERWAY

Efforts to enhance cell and internet availability in national parks continue as a result of discussions at Grand Thoughts at the Grand Canyon. While the NPS leadership team is fully supportive of this initiative, as are many park allies, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has tried to distort this effort.

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ARC MOVING OFFICE TO 1200 G STREET, NW

ARC will move its office on March 22 to Suite 650, 1200 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005. The new office location is right over the subway system’s Metro Center station and will continue to serve as the downtown gathering point for key recreation community coalition meetings and events. Our phone and fax numbers will be unchanged. ARC moved into its current office space 17 years ago. The move will enable ARC to update its technology and reduce its operating expenses. We plan to welcome all ARC members to the new office in conjunction with Great Outdoors Month 2013 – but feel free to drop by before then.

PARTNERS OUTDOORS UPDATE

Partners Outdoors 2013 will be held Feb. 19-21 at the National Conservation Training Center, about 90 minutes outside Washington, D.C., in Shepherdstown, W. Va. Participants from the private sector, federal agencies, state governments and the non-profit community will focus on three topics: (1) innovative funding for recreation investments and operations, including utilization of conservation corps; (2) serving international visitors to America’s Great Outdoors; and (3) integrating recreation and transportation programs within the MAP-21 structure and beyond. The stage will be set for each topic by a keynote presentation, followed by a panel of experts, followed by a Q&A session. Findings and recommendations will be presented by the participants to members of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation, the heads of federal agencies hosting more than a billion recreation visits annually, via a live video link.

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GREAT OUTDOORS MONTH ACTIVITIES

June will be proclaimed Great Outdoors Month again in 2013, highlighting a growing number of recreation community initiatives occurring as summer turns the nation’s attention to our Great Outdoors. This year will be the 10th time a presidential proclamation will declare June as Great Outdoors Month, adding to a string of presidential proclamations of Great Outdoors Month and Week dating back to the Clinton Administration. In 2012, every governor proclaimed June as Great Outdoors Month. Plans for National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day), June 8, are going super this year – local partnership efforts are expanding and are helping connect tens of thousands of urban kids to fun outdoors.

Read More <http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2930#GOM>

 

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