The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) is urging President Bush and Congress to establish a national recreation policy and has identified 14 areas that should be considered in developing the document.
“There needs to be a blueprint for recreation policy on public lands and public waters,” said ARC President Derrick A. Crandall. “We have developed draft legislation, and it will be introduced. We have every expectation that it will be given a serious look.”
In a letter sent to President Bush three days before ARC’s Recreation Roundtable met April 3-5 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Lake Las Vegas, Nev., Crandall said budget constraints have hampered recreation programs in recent years.
“The next four years seem likely to present obstacles to significant appropriations increases,” the letter stated. “This condition strongly argues for innovative approaches.
“Moreover, recreation efforts at the federal level have not undergone a recent review to ensure that they are strategic, that is, that they assign priority to recreation programs providing the most benefit to the nation and most effectively leveraging available resources.”
Crandall said creating a recreation policy will build on the legacies of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in the 1960s and the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors in the 1980s.
“Like both of these previous national efforts,” Crandall noted, “the national recreation strategy process will forge a blueprint for meeting needs and highlighting opportunities.”
The draft bill directs the secretary of the interior to lead a multi-departmental effort to create a national recreation strategy within 12 months of passage and submit its provisions to Congress for implementation.
Key areas to be addressed:
* The roles of state, local and private lands in meeting national outdoor recreation needs.
* Application of new technologies to enhance visitor experiences and improve program management.
* Funding in regard to multi-year budgeting.
* Recommendations of the National Recreation Lakes Study Committee.
* The applicability of requiring permit holders to pay for infrastructures at campgrounds, marinas and other developed recreation sites.
* Means to enhance access to and protection for federally managed lands and waters.
* The potential roles of the National Park Foundation, the National Forest Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in creating and assisting local non-profit entities, and the appropriate roles of such entities.
* Means to provide additional “frontcountry” trails and other facilities to enhance overall physical activity by the public.
* Ways to stimulate volunteerism on federal lands.
* Innovative partnerships between public land managers and state and local government and non-profit organizations and corporations.
* Additional funding mechanisms for recreation programs and facilities at federally managed sites.
The bill would also establish a Recreation Inter-agency Coordinating Council and authorizes appointment of recreation advisers from among the public.