Mar 3, 2011

Outdoor Industry on Hand for the Announcement of America’s Great Outdoors Report

Sally Jewell, president and CEO of Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI), had the honor of introducing President Obama at the unveiling of the report on America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) on Wednesday, February 16 at the White House. The AGO report is focused on connecting Americans to the great outdoors. Sally was joined at the White House with the following outdoor industry leaders Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports; Sam Solomon, president and CEO, The Coleman Company; Chris Fanning, executive director, The Outdoor Foundation; Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO, Outdoor Industry Association

The industry is pleased with the scope of the AGO report’s recommendations, which speak to many issues salient to active outdoor recreation:

1.  Youth

  • The report calls for the creation of a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to engage and employ young people in the outdoors.
  • The report includes a special chapter based on the 20+ youth-focused listening sessions around the country.

2.  Land and Water Conservation Fund

  • The report calls for full funding of LWCF programs (LWCF is the single best source of funds for development and enhancement of local and federal protected areas and recreational amenities).
  • The president’s FY2012 budget calls for full funding, and President Obama emphasized LWCF’s importance in his remarks at the White House.

3.  Urban and Close-to-Home Recreation

  • The report calls for the establishment of Great Urban Parks and Community Green Spaces.
  • Roughly 80 percent of the population resides in urban areas so this proposal improves access to green spaces for emerging and underserved populations.

4.  Recreation Infrastructure and Access

  • The report calls for the creation of a Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR) to help communities improve access, leverage successful programs like RTCA, and enhance partnerships with the private sector.
  • The report wants to use as an everything-recreation portal to reach and educate new and wider audiences.
  • The administration can protect and enhance our recreation infrastructure on our nation’s public lands and waterways by identifying key projects — the missing pieces of the puzzle from a landscape-level overview — that encourage the conservation, planning, and management of those places needed to experience America’s great outdoors in a sustainable manner.

5.  Healthy Lifestyle

  • The report recommends launching a public awareness initiative to show that experiencing America’s great outdoors is fun, easy and healthy.
  • The various agencies involved in AGO want to enhance partnership with the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, especially the Let’s Move Outside component.

6.  Waterways

  • The report calls for the creation of the AGO National Recreation Blueway Trail Initiative which designates appropriate blue trails as national trails.
  • The agencies hope to improve access and enhance recreation on our nation’s blueways.

7.  Federal Partnership

  • The agencies want to create the interagency AGO Council to achieve more cooperation and collaboration among federal agencies engaged in conservation and recreation.
  • The report also calls for the creation of the Partnership for AGO — a coalition of philanthropists, companies, non-profits, etc. that can work directly with the AGO Council to achieve the goals for AGO.

“President Obama understands that getting Americans active and outdoors builds healthy people and healthy communities,” said Sam Solomon, president and CEO of The Coleman Company. “The strategic investments President Obama outlined in this Report will pay dividends in our communities and our recreation economy.”

In his FY 2012 budget and the Report, the president identified the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) as the lead federal program providing access for recreation and sportsmen to public lands and waters, and close-to-home recreation through parks, trails and waterways.

“I applaud the president for calling for full funding of LWCF to enhance America’s great outdoors,” said Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports. “LWCF is the single best source of funds for development and enhancement of local and federal protected areas and recreational amenities. For this initiative to succeed, the creation, restoration, and enhancement of safe, close-to-home recreation opportunities are vital, and LWCF is the key to the development of a robust recreation infrastructure.”

A special chapter on youth engagement is also included in the report. In 2010, the administration hosted 21 youth-specific listening sessions to hear the concerns and advice of America’s youth have on outdoor activities and recreation. Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation, hosted last summer’s Outdoor Nation Youth Summit in New York City which drew over 500 young people from across the country to strategize youth engagement.

“This report speaks to youth and their role in moving America forward,” Fanning said. “The AGO process has empowered kids nationwide and they are our hope for the future. This is about kids who want to be outside in nature, kids who want to adopt and steward our natural resources.”

The release of the report does not mark an end to the initiative. The report recommends the creation of an interagency AGO Council to enhance collaboration and cooperation between federal agencies on recreation and conservation issues. The outdoor industry will be an eager advocate and participant in the Partnership for AGO composed of non-governmental stakeholders to promote innovation, augment partnerships, and invest in the future of America’s great outdoors.

Please also read the AGO Report press release from the White House.