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America Outdoors Association

March 28, 2011

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

What Will Happen to Your Operation if the Government Shuts Down after April 8th?

Quick Update on National Issues

Progress on Several Issues at Camp Washington

This Week's Online Class:  Know Thy Customer - Tourism Market Segmentation

What Will Happen to Your Operation if the Government Shuts Down after April 8th?

Another shutdown of the federal government similar to the shutdown in 1996 is looming if Congress cannot approve a resolution to continue funding government operations after April 8th.  However, one Congressional staffer said he does not think either side wants to deal with the fallout from a shutdown and expects a last minute deal.

If the government does shutdown, the impacts are likely to be the greatest on outfitters operating in federally-managed areas. The extent of the impact is not clear.  Here is what we know:

• Any action on permits, contracts or other authorizations will cease.  If you are expecting a permit to be issued or a decision to be rendered, such as a rate approval in a National Park, you should ask that it be expedited. 
• Developed facilities will be closed.  Any area with a gate will be locked unless it is a state highway or public road.  Any site or resource that is lockable may get locked.
• Rangers, law enforcement, and visitor services staff along with all other non-essential personnel, will be furloughed.
• No one will say if the backcountry will be closed to commercial operations.  Non-commercial access cannot be stopped if there is no law enforcement available unless the access route is gated.  During the last shutdown, one of our members had to go to court to keep a state highway through a National Park open, which allowed him to continue his backcountry operations.

The impasse is a result over a conflict on how much discretionary spending to cut out for the current fiscal year.

Quick Update on National Issues

• Commercial Drivers Licenses for 9 to 15 passenger vans.  We expect legislation to enhance motor coach safety to emerge in this Congress.  A Highway bill is a high priority in both the House and Senate and that is likely to be the vehicle through which motor coach and van safety is promoted.  The House will not include those provisions on their highway bill, but the Senate may attach a version of the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act that included the requirement for 9 to 15 passenger van CDL’s for interstate commerce.  AOA will work to eliminate that requirement where the transportation is for indirect compensation, meaning the transportation is incidental to the recreation services provided.

• $5 million liability limits imposed for float trips in Grand Teton National Park.  NPS, relying on the advice of their consultant AON Consulting, required $5 million liability insurance limits on float trip operators in Grand Teton National Park.  Small fishing guides will be required to carry $3 million.  Two insurers of outfitters have said the costs of meeting those limits may force some outfitters out of business.  While this is not the goal of NPS, they insist the coverage is available and that outfitters can afford the coverage.  AOA is gathering data in an effort to diminish the limits to be similar to those required by other federal agencies.  Otherwise, high limits could soon become the requirement for the Forest Service and BLM.

 AOA is also working on the Forest Service to provide authority for the use of recreation fees to cover the costs of outfitters’ trail clearing, which is often required in early season to open up trails.  With blowdowns caused by the pine beetle and fire increasingly impacting backcountry access, outfitters cannot absorb the labor costs of opening trails particularly in current economic conditions.  The Forest Service is looking at strategies to enable fee revenues to be used for significant trail clearing projects performed by outfitters.

Progress on Several Issues at Camp Washington

The comments from Bob Foster of Lost Valley Ranch summarizes the outcome of AOA’s recent Camp Washington which focused on visits to federal agencies and members of Congress to address issues of concern to the industry.

“Changes to government policy, law or regulation are normally not a tsunami but a progression of small incremental waves.  It takes time to build relationships, to listen more and talk less, to build consensus without sacrificing principles and to understand that in politics being right does not necessarily carry the day.  I left Washington DC feeling I understood more about the concerns of the public land agencies.  I made two solid Congressional contacts I could call in the future.  I also felt we had a good chance of defeating the 15 passenger van issue, we could change the 5 million insurance liability requirements in Park contracts, we could alter the strict liability language in Forest Service permits, and maybe a way for the public land agencies to “share” in the costs of trail maintenance.  For a bunch of ‘Chacos’ and ‘Hats’ not a bad four days in Washington.” 

We also spent time dealing with the FLREA reauthorization authority under which federal permits are issued from the BLM and Forest Service. 

Join Us For This Week's Online Class

Know Thy Customer - Tourism Market Segmentation

This session will address how tourism professionals can apply common consumer product marketing techniques such as market segmentation in order to understand what differentiates visitor groups on a behavioral level. We will explore methods and tools tourism professionals can use to segment and target their core visitors, including geocoding and geodemography techniques.

Speaker: Shannon Gray
Date: Thursday, March 31, 2011
Time: 1PM to 2PM Central
Registration Fee $49.95 or $39.96 (20% Discount) for America Outdoors Members (Use Coupon Code AOA)

Learn More.  Register Now.

Next Week's Online Class

Banners, Behaviors and Best Practices

Display banner ads can be highly targeted to your core audiences using many targeting techniques. Hear about the best ways to really make your banners work for you.

Speaker: Howard Tietjen
Date: Thursday, April 7, 2011
Time: 1PM to 2PM Central
Registration Fee $49.95 or $39.96 (20% Discount) for America Outdoors Members (Use Coupon Code AOA)

Learn More. Register Now.



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