June 2013 Newsletter

This Newsletter is also available in PDF format here

In this issue:

Great Outdoors Month Proclaimed by White House, Governors
Healthy Food Event Draws Secretary Jewell, Director Jarvis
New National Park Centennial Advisory Committee Meets
October 2013 NPHA Meeting Plans
July Call with NPS Associate Director McDowall, Commercial Services Chief Erichsen
CMAB Working Groups Update
Key Transitions
House Hearing on Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act
Great Outdoors Week Celebrated
U.S. Senator Alexander is 2013 Sheldon Coleman Award Winner



The President and all 50 governors declared June 2013 as Great Outdoors Month, demonstrating that fun outdoors successfully bridges the nation's political and regional divisions. This was the third time every governor in the nation took action for Great Outdoors Month. The Governor of the Virgin Islands and the Mayor of the District Columbia also issued proclamations.

The proclamations were unique but shared key themes, including applauding the health and economic benefits of the Great Outdoors. New in 2013 was the outpouring of support from governors for key events taking place during June. More than a dozen Governors from states as diverse as Idaho and Louisiana and Connecticut specifically applauded the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®, National Fishing and Boating Week coordinated by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day organized by the Association of Marina Industries, National Get Outdoors Day organized by the American Recreation Coalition and the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout.

View and download President Obama's 2013 proclamation and all gubernatorial Great Outdoors Month Proclamations at http://www.funoutdoors.com/node/view/2934.

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Great Outdoors Week included a high-visibility Wednesday event on the National Mall to celebrate partnership efforts to offer national park visitors information about and choices of healthy food. NPS Director Jon Jarvis, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, leading park concessioner executives and Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor to the President on Nutrition, explained efforts to reach park visitors who purchase nearly 30 million meals annually while in parks. The NPS issued standards which will be incorporated into future park concessions contracts - with support from the agency's current concessions partners. The agency is also supporting efforts to obtain food from local sources and to adopt food standards which reflect high levels of commitment to environmentally responsible operations. The announcements concluded with a delightful treat of healthy foods prepared on location by guest chefs from four concessioners: Guest Services Inc., ARAMARK, Delaware North Companies and Xanterra. Media coverage included USA Today and the Washington Post. For details on the new standards, click here.

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The National Park Service (NPS) has created a 31-member body to help plan for the agency's 2016 Centennial. It was formed as a committee of the National Park System Advisory Board, giving it Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) status. The committee is chaired by Gretchen Long of Wilson, Wyoming, and includes top leadership of such partner organizations as the National Park Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Parks Friends Alliance and National Park Hospitality Association. Virtually all key park constituencies are represented - from tourism (Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon) to NPS retirees (Maureen Finnerty, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees), state agencies (Priscilla Geigis, National Association of State Park Directors), and the National Geographic Society (John Francis). Two practicing physicians are on the committee, reflecting the strong interest of the agency in tying healthy people to healthy parks. And Bruce Fears of ARAMARK is playing a very active role.

The initial meeting of the committee began with a reception at the Woodrow Wilson House, arranged by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. President Wilson signed the legislation creating NPS in 1916. During its full-day session, the committee heard from and interacted with Grey, the agency developing a multi-year, multi-million dollar per annum Centennial campaign with Key Performance Indicators including increased park visitation. The committee also urged the NPS to undertake an outreach effort to invite partners for Centennial efforts - and urged that partners and activities be selected to support ongoing efforts to make NPS and parks relevant and sustainable. Grey has completed qualitative research and is now undertaking quantitative research which will lead to presentation of an outline of the proposed campaign in early fall 2013 to NPS and the advisory committee.

The committee will meet at least twice annually through the 2016 Centennial. Its seven-member executive group, which includes NPHA Counselor Derrick Crandall, will meet at least four times annually. For information on the Centennial Advisory Committee charter click here, for information on Advisory Committee members click here, and for information on the report delivered by Grey click here.

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NPHA’s 2013 fall meeting will begin on Sunday, October 27 and continue through Tuesday evening, October 29. Among the key topics of the meeting will be:
1) the National Park Service Centennial Campaign;
2) preparing for changes in NPS operation during 2014 because of budget pressures;
3) blueprint for allowing concessioners to better serve national park visitors;
4) strategic plan for NPHA, including the roles of CONPAC, NPPC and the Park Partners Foundation; and
5) the new Director's Order 21 and its implications for concessioners.

The meeting will be based at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, operated by ARAMARK. We anticipate opportunities to meet with new leadership at the U.S. Department of the Interior, with key Members of Congress and with NPS leaders. The NPS Concessions Management Advisory Board plans an all-day meeting on October 30 at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Details on the meeting, including the meeting registration form, can be downloaded here.

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NPS Associate Director for Business Services Lena McDowall has accepted NPHA’s invitation to introduce the agency’s new Chief of Commercial Services Ben Erichsen and outline key NPS activities pertinent to the concessions industry. NPHA Board members will be automatically invited to participate. Other concessions industry members can join in by request. The call is tentatively planned for the week of July 22nd. To register for participation in the call, send an email with the subject line “July Call with NPS Commercial Services Office” to tgeorgevits@funoutdoors.com.

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The three working groups of the Concessions Management Advisory Board (CMAB) will begin work shortly. If you have submitted your name to be part of one or more of the groups, expect to hear from the NPS Commercial Services office soon. The working groups will address:
1) simplified processes for small concessioners
2) concessioner recognition and incentives
3) innovative commercial visitor services

Kurt Rausch will provide staff leadership for the Recognition/Incentives Group and is in the process of organizing an initial teleconference in July. The group on simplified procedures for small concessioners will be coordinated by Anne Altman, who has now begun contacting group members. Start up of the group focusing on innovative visitor services has been delayed, and is awaiting the award of a consulting contract. Deb Hecox reported that the outreach to members should begin in the second half of July.

Although initial members of each Working Group have been named, additional volunteers can apply for one or more of the groups. Contact the responsible NPS official for the group (noted above) ASAP and also keep NPHA informed, so we can help to ensure your inclusion in this important effort. Plans call for the Working Groups to work actively between now and the fall of 2013, with recommendations going to NPS leadership by early 2014.

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Stanley J. Austin will begin service as the National Park Service Southeast Regional Director in mid-July. Stan has served as superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park since 2010. He previously served as superintendent at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, as acting deputy superintendent at Yosemite National Park and deputy superintendent for Rocky Mountain National Park. Austin began his career with the National Park Service in 1978 at Gateway National Recreation as an interpretive park ranger, resource management specialist, and then law enforcement ranger. His NPS career was interrupted for nine years by time with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and selection as a Mike Mansfield Fellow to work with the Japan Environmental Agency. He returned to the National Park Service in 2003. A New Jersey native, Stan Austin earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Sciences with a focus on biology from Rutgers University. He also received a graduate certificate in Natural Sciences from Duke University. stanley_austin@nps.gov, (404) 507-5600

Reggie Chapple is the new Chief of Partnerships and Philanthropic Stewardship at the national level, aiding NPS Assistant Director for Partnerships and Civic Engagement Rich Weideman. Reggie is responsible for national strategies regarding partnerships and community engagement, cause-related marketing, donor cultivation and vetting, partnership training, and partnership construction over $1 million in national parks. Prior to joining the NPS staff in December 2012, Reggie served as Community Outreach Specialist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Los Angeles Division. Reggie has over 20 years of nonprofit corporation leadership including time as Chief Operating Officer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles and President & CEO of Dunbar Economic Development Corporation in Los Angeles. Reggie holds a Master of Arts degree in Urban Planning from UCLA and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Journalism and International Relations from the University of Southern California.  Reginald_Chapple@nps.gov, (202) 354-2112

John Rutter will leave Vail Resorts and the Grand Teton Lodge Company on October 1st. He is turning over his responsibilities to Alex Klein. Prior to assuming his new role in Wyoming, Alex had been Vail Resort’s Vice President for Hospitality Division Operations. He had previously worked at Grand Teton Lodge Company as the Director of Hotel Operations and brings solid park concessions experience to his important role overseeing operations which include Jackson Lake Lodge, Jenny Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village and Flagg Ranch. Alex has been nominated for an appointment to the NPHA Board of Directors.  klein@gtlc.com, (307) 543-3500

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The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held an oversight hearing on the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) on June 18, listening to representatives of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture as well as public witnesses. Committee staff expects to work with recreation and agency interests over the summer to develop a bill and to conduct at least one more hearing this fall. FLREA, which authorizes federal recreation site entrance and facility use fees, is now slated to expire in December 2014.

FLREA replaced the experimental "fee demo" program which began in 1996 and allowed fee retention by collecting sites to overcome federal site closures and quality declines caused by tight agency budgets. The authority now provides an estimated $300 million annually for recreation program spending. There are a number of concerns about FLREA, including:
1) Recreation community fears that fees are simply replacing reduced appropriations;
2) Controversy over fees collected at sites with very limited services;
3) The high cost of fee programs, including collection and public involvement;
4) Special benefits for seniors at concessioner-operated facilities; and
5) Linkage with other efforts underway to upgrade recreation infrastructure including federal campgrounds.

Action to extend FLREA is likely before December 2014. The President's FY2014 budget proposed a one-year extension. Draft legislation which would extend FLREA for another 10 years - or perhaps permanently - is circulating on the Hill. The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) has suggested a three-year extension and direction by the Congress to the agencies to improve key functions, including use of new technologies to collect fees and more effective public consultation on fees. To read ARC's comments submitted for the hearing, including a multi-organization letter focusing on national park fees, click here.

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To see pictures of key Great Outdoors Week events, click here.

A variety of programs in Washington celebrating America’s Great Outdoors marked 2013 Great Outdoors Week, coordinated by the American Recreation Coalition. The presentation of Beacon Awards, recognizing use of technology to improve visitor experiences on public lands and waters and federal recreation program management, kicked off the week on Monday. Beacon Awards went to five agencies, including one to the National Park Service Planning Program for use of technology to aid public engagement in park planning. Other awards were earned for Cell Phone/Quick Response (QR) Code Tours (Bureau of Land Management) and for recreation visitor-focused websites (Forest Service).

Friends from federal agencies and the recreation community gathered in Interior’s Bison Bistro - the Department of the Interior's cafeteria - for the opening celebration of Great Outdoors Week with an ice cream social. Unilever, one of the week's sponsors, provided an array of delicious frozen treats that were enjoyed by senior officials from three federal departments and a wide array of recreation organizations. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell addressed the group (see her comments here). The Presidential and gubernatorial proclamations designating June as Great Outdoors Month were displayed, describing the important role played by recreation in the U.S. economy, our health and conservation efforts.

The next day, top federal agency representatives and recreation enthusiasts gathered at the Mayflower Renaissance for the presentations of 2013 Legends Awards, recognizing outstanding work by federal executives to improve outdoor recreation experiences and opportunities for the American people. Key agency officials, including NPS Director Jon Jarvis - who received a Legends Award in 2002 - joined in the presentations.

Tuesday also featured NPS Director Jon Jarvis as the special guest speaker at the Great Outdoors Week Recreation Exchange, hosted jointly by ARC and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. Director Jarvis's remarks covered a number of key topics, including: the challenges currently facing the National Park Service; the agency's upcoming Centennial in 2016; and new agency initiatives.

The Director was very candid in addressing current challenges, including flat visitation and aging infrastructure. Mr. Jarvis commented that the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity among visitors and the irrelevance of the parks to too many young people were even greater concerns than the lack of growth in visitation. "We've got to connect to all Americans," he said, describing the lack of diversity and youth as "a recipe for decline." Another challenge cited by the Director was funding - noting a growing $11 billion backlog in maintenance.

Director Jarvis told the group that the first Director of the National Park Service - Stephen Mather - had been a marketing expert from the private sector who had successfully sold national parks to both the U.S. Congress and the American people using partnerships with the railroads, with the National Geographic Society, and with the artistic community. He noted that the agency's Organic Act tasks the National Park Service with both the regulation and the promotion of the national parks. He expressed pride in the protection mission, but told the group that promotion had been largely neglected. A new campaign for the national parks is now in development by GreyNYC in conjunction with the Centennial, a real marketing strategy, he stated, which will involve the use of well-known figures from sports and Hollywood and iconic events like the Tournament of Roses Parade and halftime at the Super Bowl. The campaign will mean increased visitation and a new constituency for parks - as both stewards and philanthropists - among future generations.

Jarvis added that the agency is also looking at new models for financing its operations, carefully evaluating many different ideas for sustainable supplemental funding raised in March at the Bipartisan Policy Center's Bridgebuilder session. To read more about NPS Director Jarvis' remarks, click here.

The Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT) held a very successful awards ceremony in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The awards, which have been presented for the last 15 years, recognize outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds in a number of different categories, including: construction and design; environmental compatibility; education and communication; and maintenance and rehabilitation. CRT also joined with the National Association of State Park Directors to recognize state-level trails program excellence by West Virginia and Wisconsin. Among the trail program champions who participated were U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME), Tom Petri (R-WI), and Nick Rahall (D-WV). Also joining the event were U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS), and Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment and Realty, Federal Highway Administration.

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U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, the recreation community's most prestigious award. The award is presented for personal efforts contributing substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences across America and honors 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.

Lamar Alexander chaired the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors (PCAO). He has served as the Secretary of Education and as the Governor of Tennessee, where he focused on sustainable economic growth, leading Tennessee to become the third largest auto producing state while protecting open space and improving water quality. First elected to the Senate in 2002, Senator Alexander served three terms as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and is presently the ranking Republican overseeing both education, labor and health and energy appropriations.

Senator 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 threatened to lead to public recreation program cutbacks. PCAO's advocacy of greenways and scenic byways, of making recreation 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.

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 and appearing at the America's Summit on National Parks. He has spoken out about the health challenges facing Americans, especially youth, because of obesity and lessened physical activity, and the role of recreation as a cost-effective remedy.

The award will be presented to the Senator on September 10 in Washington, D.C. It is again an original piece of American Indian art. Previous recipients include former Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Dirk Kempthorne, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former President George H. W. Bush, National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor, then-U.S. Senators John Breaux, Frank Murkowski and John Chafee, then-U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar, former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and Snowbird Chairman and CEO Dick Bass.

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Read the Federal Parks and Recreation newsletter, provided as a member service, at http://parkpartners.org/Federal-Parks-and-Recreation-Newsletter.html (password is “nphaonly”).

For information on upcoming prospectuses and other actions of the NPS Commercial Services Office, check regularly at http://concessions.nps.gov/.

To reach an NPS employee, use the NPS locator at http://www.nps.gov/directory/.

For reports on park unit visitation, current year and historic, as well as information on overnight stays, go to https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.

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NPHA’s 2013 dues payments are now overdue. If you have not yet paid, please contact Tom Georgevits at tgeorgevits@funoutdoors.com with any questions or to obtain the necessary forms.

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National Park Hospitality Association

Contact: derrick@parkpartners.org

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