America Outdoors Association
America Outdoors Association

October 13, 2011

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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Discover Industry Trends

AOA Member’s Wrangler on the Letterman Show

Park Visitation Data Show Impacts of Weather and Economy

Forest Service Revises Rules Governing Appeals of Permit Decisions

Risk Management Programs to Deal with Emergency Response and Crisis Communication Strategies

AOA Hires Actuary to Deal with NPS Insurance Requirements

H.R. 2834 Promotes Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on Public Lands

Congressional Democrats Finalize Recommendations to Supercommittee

Discover Industry Trends

Take 3 minutes to fill-out the Industry Outcome Survey for the 2011 Season.  The results will reveal some interesting trends regarding industry growth and what some companies are doing to achieve it.  Click here to fill out the survey

AOA Member’s Wrangler on the Letterman Show

Erin Bolster, a spunky wrangler for Swan Mountain Outfitters who used her horse to rescue a boy from a 750 lb grizzly, made a star appearance on The Letterman show.  She tells her story in this video from the show.  The Letterman Show even flew the horse in for the appearance. Click here for the video.  Good job Erin!

Park Visitation Data Show Impacts of Weather and Economy

Overall, recreation visits to National Parks are down 2.21% year-to-date.  The biggest declines among Park units of interest to AOA members occurred at Buffalo National River which has seen 494,000 fewer visitors and Lake Mead NRA with over 670,613 fewer visits.  Among the biggest declines for big western National Parks are over 300,000 fewer recreation visits to Glacier and 225,700 fewer visits to Yellowstone.  Overall, Memorial Parks in downtown Washington, DC have seen the most significant declines, which probably reflects a downturn in vacation travel to the city.  Lincoln Memorial is down by 592,000 visits year-to-date and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is down by over 700,000 (not sure how that once qualifies as recreation).  The most significant increases occurred at the Blue Ridge Parkway, up 919,000 visits and Gulf Islands National Sea Shore, which is up over 800,000 visits.

Click here to go to a list of parks of interest to members.

Forest Service Revises Rules Governing Appeals of Permit Decisions

On October 11, 2011, the Forest Service issued a notice revising the rules governing Appeals of Decisions Relating to Occupancy and Use of National Forest System Lands and Resources.  AOA has an attorney reviewing the rule, which governs the process for appealing permitting decisions, including which decisions are appealable.  We will let you know what we find and submit comments on behalf of the industry.

Risk Management Program at AOA Conference to Deal with Emergency Response and Crisis Communication Strategies

Sooner or later every company has a critical incident.  For any company the impacts are significant but it is chaotic and disastrous for an unprepared and untrained staff.  In this session, outfitters will see how crucial the period immediately following a critical incident can be in terms of the health and viability of your business. Then you'll look in great detail at what happens when there is a critical incident. Specifically, you'll discuss what is likely to happen and what will be required of a recreational operator in terms of:

  • Law enforcement investigation
  • Insurance requirements
  • Internal care and maintenance of staff
  • Media inquiries
  • What defense counsel will require

From the experiences of others who have been through critical incidents, you'll find out what to expect, what a critical incident is likely to ‘feel’ like and how you can affect whether the incident turns into litigation. You'll hear how other operators have dealt with critical incidents, resolved them and even grown from them.  Tracey Knutson and recreation communications expert Skip King will lead this seminar.

If you don’t have a critical incident response plan, which includes a crisis communication strategy, you should look at what we have on the AOA website under the Risk Management section of Member Resources.  Call us if you need your user name and password. 

For more information on the AOA conference and to register, click here.  Make airline reservations ASAP to get the best fares.

Follow us on twitter @aoaconference   Use the hashtag #aoareno in your twitter messages (tweets) to enable a quick search of all the conference messages. 

Here’s how twitter explains hashtags:
Definition: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.  People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search.  Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category.  Hashtags can occur anywhere in the Tweet.  Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

AOA Hires Actuary to Deal with NPS Insurance Requirements

This year the National Park Service issued contracts in Grand Teton National Park for floating, horseback riding and fishing that requires most outfitters, guest ranches and tour operators to carry General Liability insurance with a $5,000,000 limit.  AOA drafted a white paper on the issue and has recently hired an actuary to develop a paper on the potential impacts of the increased limits.  These new limits raised one company’s premiums by over $20,000 in one year.  AOA and many of our insurance providers do not think these insurance limits are affordable or sustainable in the long run for adventure recreation activities in National Parks. Special thanks to Rick Lindsey at Worldwide Outfitters and Guides Association for his financial support for this effort.

H.R. 2834 Promotes Hunting and Fishing Opportunities on Public Lands

H.R. 2834 is designed to promote hunting and fishing opportunities on Interior and Forest Service lands except in National Parks by waiving compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for planning and execution of hunting and fishing activities.  The bill would also eliminate the “needs assessment” for hunting and fishing activities in wilderness.  The bill is expected to be marked up along a party line vote in November in the House Resources Committee.  The Wilderness Society opposes the bill  over the needs assessment exemption.  They claim it will authorize motorized use in wilderness areas, which the bill backers deny.  Motors are authorized in wilderness only "as necessary" for Administration of the Act. While this is not the intent of the bill, as we understand it, that may have to be clarified at mark-up.  The bill will have tough sledding in the Senate in this Congress where it will surely face a filibuster.  We will keep you posted.

Congressional Democrats Finalize Recommendations to Supercommittee

The Democratic leadership in Congress released their recommendations to the Supercommittee on deficit and debt reduction today.  The letter from Rep. Nancy Pelosi included recommendations from the Ranking Democratic Members of the Senate and House committees overseeing Natural Resources.  Their recommendations focus mostly on oil and gas and mineral extraction royalties.  Grazing fees are also addressed.  However, outfitter fees and related issues are not covered or included in their recommendations.

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