Consultant Lyle Laverty, a former assistant secretary of the Interior, has founded the National Association of Gateway Communities (NAGC) to expand the relationship that cities and towns have with nearby federal public land agencies.

First base in this initiative is improved communications.

“Communities don’t even know how to get involved in agencies’ planning processes,” Laverty told state campground association leaders attending the National Association of RV Parks And Campground’s (ARVC) 2009 National Issues Conference April 28-29 in Washington, D.C. “I’ve had a number of folks come to me from park service communities saying that they don’t even know when the agency is going to do anything until they come and announce a decision.”

Laverty, president and CEO of Denver, Colo.- based The Laverty Group, said there are two reasons for the lack of communities– public lands managers who don’t participate in the various community and the high turnover of community officials.

He told the group that NAGC incorporation papers were filed April 26. Efforts failed in the early part of the decade to create a Gateway Communities Act to give public lands managers authority to better involve themselves in local government planning.
Laverty said the new association goal will be to openly advocate and “broker” relationships “so that communities can be engaged in planning.”

“It’s not to pit one against the other but to find issues that will help Congress understand,” he said.