America Outdoors Association
America Outdoors Association


 October 15, 2012


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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Donate a Trip to the Live Auction in Daytona!

Secretary Salazar Announces Brian Merrill's Appointment to Utah BLM Resource Advisory Committee

Environmental Groups to Sue over NMFS Failure to Designate Critical Habitat for Loggerhead Turtles

IRS Releases Seasonal Worker Coverage Guidance under Affordable Care Act

State Court Orders Hudson River Rafting Company to Cease Operations

Eye Opening Survey Results /2012 Season Outcome Survey Still Open

Suggested Points for Commenting on the NPS Healthy Foods Initiative for NPS Backcountry Operations

Donate a Trip to the Live Auction in Daytona!

Have a trip you want others to see and hear about while helping your industry trade association?  Donate a trip to the live auction to be held at the AOA Conference in Daytona Beach on Wednesday, December 5th at the Hilton.  Here are just a few of the exciting trips donated thus far:

  • Canoe-Camping Adventure for 8, French Broad River, Western NC, Headwaters Outfitters
  • 5 Day/4 Night Boundary Waters Canoe Trip for 2 by Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters
  • 7 Night stay Townhouse in Cedar Key, Florida, Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center
  • Gunflint Lodge 3 Night Lodge Getaway for 2, all meals and amenities included
  • Overnight Camping Trip for Two on the Peace River, FL

To see all the donated items for the live and silent auction go to AUCTIONS.  To donate contact or To register for the conference go to Conference.

Secretary Salazar Announces Brian Merrill's Appointment to Utah BLM Resource Advisory Committee

AOA Board Member and Past President Brian Merrill was recently appointed to the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for the state of Utah.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made the announcement recently along with the appointment of 3 other new members.

The BLMs Resource Advisory Councils help ensure that the management of our public lands and resources are guided by a wide range of perspectives and by the input of citizens and local communities, said BLM Utah State Director, Juan Palma. I welcome our new RAC members and commend them for their service on behalf of Americas public lands. Their input and recommendations will help us restore our treasured landscapes and ensure that we are harnessing the benefits of these lands in a balanced way." 

Environmental Groups to Sue over NMFS Failure to Designate Critical Habitat for Loggerhead Turtles

On October 11, 2012 the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network announced plans to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service for failure to designate critical habitat for nine populations of endangered loggerhead sea turtles.  Population declines on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts prompted the turtle's listing.  Florida hosts the largest population of loggerheads in the U.S. Nesting along the Florida coast has dropped 40% since 1998, and according to reports, 80% along the southern California and Mexican coast.  Loggerheads swim from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S. to feed.  Aside from habitat losses, loggerheads often die in nets and on long lines set for tuna and swordfish.

IRS Releases Seasonal Worker Coverage Guidance under Affordable Care Act

Beginning in 2014 employers who hire more than 50 full-time equivalents are required to provide appropriate health insurance coverage or pay assessments. Employers with 25 or fewer employees may be eligible for tax credits for providing coverage. AOA will have an expert at Daytona to consult with companies on their responsibilities and options under the Act.

The good news is IRS has provided guidance on the treatment of seasonal workers through 2014 which seems to provide some relief for employers with a larger number of seasonal employees.The National Retail Federation has a great one page diagram to help you understand the new IRS guidance.  IRS will allow employers to make good faith efforts in determining the status for seasonal workers through 2014. The daunting task of keeping up with the hours and coverage eligibility of seasonal workers with variable hours appears to have been taken into consideration for the time being.

Companies will have to prepare in 2013 to comply with the requirements that take effect in 2014.  A few issues have to be dealt with in 2012.  You should

·       Determine whether you are a covered employer or plan sponsor and what employer-sponsored health benefits may be subject to the requirements of the Act.

·       Provide a four-page Summary of Benefits and Coverage to plan participants for the initial and open enrollment for plans commencing after September 23, 2012.

·        Collect the information needed to report the value of the 2012 health coverage on the Forms W-2 due in 2013.

·       Ensure W-2 reporting system reflects the value of employees' 2012 health care insurance.

·       Ensure your tax withholding system has changed to collect additional Medicare premiums for high wage earners starting January 1, 2013.

·       Limit employee Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) salary reduction contributions to $2,500.

State Court Orders Hudson River Rafting Company to Cease Operations

The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets are reporting that the State Supreme Court ordered Hudson River Rafting to cease operation under a temporary restraining order (TRO) pending a hearing next week.  Justice Richard Giardino issued the order.  According to a complaint filed by the Attorney General, the company had committed statutory fraud by committing numerous safety violations and falsely advertising its services.  The TRO comes after a guide was charged with criminally negligent homicide following the death of customer.  The company's owner was in court on October 10th in Hamilton County, New York which is seeking to re-open a reckless endangerment charge against the companys owner for another incident.

Eye Opening Survey Results

2012 Season Outcome Survey Still OpenTake five minutes and get instant results to see what's up and what's down and which strategies led to business growth. The results are eye opening.

 Suggested Points for Commenting on the NPS Healthy Foods Initiative for NPS Backcountry Operations

The following points are offered to guide your comments on the NPS Healthy Food initiative but should not be used verbatim if you want your comments to be substantive.  You may make the same points but use concrete examples or add your own comments and points.  The NPS Guidelines can be found Here.  

1) Healthy food requirements or guidelines should NOT be included in contract prospectuses as decision factors in contract proposals.  They should not be the basis for scoring proposals in contract awards for backcountry outfitters.  The decision on the award of contracts and scoring proposals are accomplished by NPS concession specialists from other Park units (supposedly this enforces impartiality), who may be unfamiliar with the nutritional needs for specific activities and settings.  Within a Park, outfitters will have very different customers on different types of trips so no standard can be applied to every trip.  For example, requiring a low calorie option on every trip is inappropriate.  Some trips require high caloric intake, such as multi-day paddling or hiking trips.  Space limitations in transporting food may limit the number of options available for meals in the backcountry.  

2) Measuring compliance or participation in the healthy foods initiative should not be included in performance evaluations since outfitters often have to provide foods based on local availability, and customer make-up. Outfitters are already having to include gluten-free and meals for diabetics with minimal storage for additional options that may be required.  Last minute changes in group size or reservations that require them to use foods suitable for their customers which may be available locally at the time of the trip.  Some outfitters run custom trips, even specialty trips where chefs provide gourmet meals or where certain ethnic groups want a menu that is consistent with their cultural preferences.  These opportunities should not be prohibited by these guidelines or regulations.

3) The overburden of regulation associated with contracts is threatening outfitters’ ability to serve their customers in some cases.  The healthy food guidelines should not add another burden from which any deviation will diminish the concessioner's standing or evaluation.

4) Comments should cover the many healthy food options and practices which are already being practiced as an example of the important voluntary contributions that are being made.  These comments should demonstrate that you are already on board and that no enforcement or documentation by NPS should be necessary.  Any reference to the guidelines should be in the operating plan after consultation with the outfitters but should remain voluntary and not subject to evaluation to enable companies to adapt to changes in economic conditions and the food supply, including shortages and disruptions in the supply chain.  Many outfitters are already complying with hormone free food and other healthy food options.

5)     Companies under contract to provide meals to staff should not be required to revise their menus unless they are able to accommodate changes voluntarily.

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Knoxville, TN 37939

Phone: 1-800-524-4814

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