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December 12, 2006

America Outdoors E-News

America Outdoors Announces Property and Casualty Insurance Program NPS and Forest Service Reveal New Policies at America Outdoors Conference
Coast Guard Bill with Sales Tax Authorization Dies as Congress Recesses Congressman Rahall Takes Control of House Committee on Resources
America Outdoors Announces Property and Casualty Insurance Program
  America Outdoors is proud to announce the America Outdoors Property and Casualty Insurance Program. Backed by A- A.M. Best rated insurance carriers, the program already covers more than 40 AO members and is being expanded to offer a broader range of coverages.

The America Outdoors Program offers coverage for whitewater rafting, cycling, equine activities, equipment rental, snowmobiling and many other activities offered by our members. Auto, property and other coverages are also available in a comprehensive package.

America Outdoors has formed a committee to collaborate with our underwriters in expanding the availability of coverages and developing helpful risk management programs for our members. For more information on eligible coverages, and activities contact our program administrator, The Schneider Group at (520) 670-1111. dschneider@theschneidergroup.com

The America Outdoors Insurance Program is for AO members and can be accessed solely through our program administrator The Schneider Group. Members must meet underwriting qualifications to qualify for the program. We believe this program will offer you a unique approach to meeting your insurance needs while supporting America Outdoors' efforts to protect your future and access for your customers.
NPS and Forest Service Reveal New Policies
at America Outdoors Conference
  At America Outdoors' Marketing and Management Conference in Salt Lake in late November NPS revealed new, alarming insurance requirements to be required of outfitters and guides and small concessions. Among their new requirements for contracts grossing less than $3,000,000 are coverage for $50,000 in medical payments and pollution coverage of $3,000,000 per occurrence. A representative for Price, Waterhouse, Coopers said the medical payment coverage was necessary because of the high risk nature of the services provided by outfitters. No credible explanation was given for the requirement for pollution coverage except that some operations have motorized services. AO has already begun work on these issues.

The Forest Service also provided a preview of their new permitting policy. Director of Recreation Jim Bedwell revealed that the new policy on permit administration will create a new pool of use for institutions, non profits and other groups, presumably to include outfitters, which may conduct non-reoccurring trips under "lower operating requirements." America Outdoors believes that allowing a group of users to conduct commercial operations with "lower operating requirements" is inappropriate and unfair to existing permittees. Furthermore, many existing permittees cannot change their services without paying for expensive NEPA evaluations, while permits will be issued without NEPA for new uses from within this pool. AO will probably not object to a pool being established if existing outfitters can access it under the same operating requirements. Currently, permittees are not allowed to offer trips for costs to underserved populations unless the same opportunity is available to the general public. Permittees also have to pay fees on the full advertised price.

Some positive factors of the policy change are expected. Many reoccurring temporary permits will be converted to long-term permits. The agency will also provide more flexibility in the management of use allocations. The new policy is expected to be out soon.

Over, AO's conference was a great success with many proclaiming it to be the best programming ever. Bob Volpert commented, "Confluence was excellent. I've been to a lot of these things and this was the best. The speakers were very good, the topics timely, and everything was well organized."
Coast Guard Bill with Sales Tax Authorization
Dies as Congress Recesses
  H.R. 5681 with language in Section 302 that reinstated the authorization for sales taxes on services on navigable waterways died in the Senate upon their recess. However, the Coast Guard Authorization bill will eventually pass. In the meantime, America Outdoors will work to remove or modify the language in the next Congress.
Congressman Rahall Takes Control of House Committee on Resources
  A long-time friend of West Virginia outfitters will now control the committee overseeing outfitter and guide issues in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Nick Rahall, (D-WV) will take control of the Committee on Resources when it reconvenes. He vowed to seek more funding for Parks, forests and public lands, although his committee does not control the budget or appropriations bills. However, his colleague in the Senate, Robert Byrd (D-WV) is the chair of Senate Appropriations Committee when 110th Congress convenes.

According to the Federal Parks and Recreation newsletter, in a news conference Representative Rahall "called for 'balance' in the management of the nation's natural resources", but "made it clear he will favor protection of parks, forests, refuges and other conservation lands over commercial uses".
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America Outdoors® Inc., PO Box 10847, Knoxville, TN, 37939

America Outdoors Staff Title E-mail address
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Elizabeth Bentley Office Manager office@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone 865-558-3595
Office Fax 865-558-3598

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