Breckenridge hosts national recreation planning pow-wow

Conference to focus on connecting Americans with the outdoors

Some of Summit County's recreational jewels will be highlighted during a national conference of recreation planners in Breckenridge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Vail Pass, Cucumber Gulch and some other local gems will be showcased next week during a major national pow-wow on recreation resource planning in Breckenridge.

This year’s theme for the annual conference is all about connecting Americans with the outdoors, closely linked to the administration’s recent America’s Great Outdoors initiative — and what it means for those in the outdoor recreation industry who plan to fulfill the mission.

The National Association of Recreation Resource Planners conference runs May 23 to May 26 at the Beaver Run Conference Center. Click  on for more information. The full conference agenda is online here.

“The AGO Initiative was initiated to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to get Americans outside in nature,” said conference planning committee co-chair Scott Babcock. “Exploring ways to fulfill the AGO mission is paramount if we are to sustain our natural and cultural treasures, improve public health, and reinvigorate local economies through recreation and tourism.”

““As the national economy continues to recover, and more people recognize the importance of getting outdoors, it is more vital than ever that we continue to build momentum on this important topic,” said conference organizer Dr. Glenn Haas. “It’s also the best pathway to instill a new generation of land stewards who will be prepared to address some of the key issues we face.”

One panel (May 26, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.) will explore the role of the outdoor recreation industry, including its economic impacts and a corporate perspective on implementing the goals of the administration’s outdoor initiative. The panel, including representatives from REI and Northface and the Outdoor  Industry Association, will discuss how the private and public sectors can work together to ensure the future of active outdoor lifestyles.

Other sessions will cover the state of America’s state parks, getting youth outside, sustainable recreation and tourism planning and even the role of mobile information technology.

Conference participants will also spend time in the field learning about heritage tourism during a visit with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, viewing historic mine sites, hiking along the trails traveled by prospectors more than 100 years ago, and seeing the town’s National Historic District – one of the largest in the state.

The planners will also explore the Cucumber Gulch Preserve, Breckenridge’s experiment in trying to preserve a rich alpine wetlands in the midst of intensive resort development, and the Vail Pass  Recreation Area and Summit County’s Recreational Path System.

The group will honor Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Interagency AGO Coordinating Council, with a lifetime achievement award for her work on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Sutley wll deliver the keynote address at Thursday’s “main event” luncheon.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will also be honored for his outstanding national leadership in championing the protection of America’s natural treasures that are central to America’s best outdoor experiences.

In addition to Ms. Sutley, noted speakers and workshop leaders include:

** Joe Elton, president, National Association of State Park Directors

** Dr. Ken Cordell, pioneering scientist, U.S. Forest Service

** Dean Winstanley, cirector, Colorado State Parks

** State Parks directors from Michigan, Delaware, Virginia, and Georgia

** Mike Collins, vice president of public affairs, REI

** Dan Gibbs, Summit County commissioner and former Colorado legislator

** Rick Just, president, National Association of Recreation Resource Planners

** Frank Hugelmeyer, president & CEO, Outdoor Industry Association

“This conference provides an exciting opportunity to define ways that outdoor recreation resource professionals and planners can support and further the AGO Initiative,” said NARRP president Rick Just. “The fact that this conference coincides with the unveiling of the AGO Initiative makes it a unique opportunity to learn about, and help shape implementation of this important effort.”

More information about the conference is online at

Some of the panel highlights include:

** The Outdoor Recreation Industry – Thursday, May 26, 8:00—9:30 AM
·         the economic impacts of active outdoor recreation in America
·         a “corporate” perspective on how AGO recommendations can be implemented
·         how the private and public sectors can work together to ensure the future of active outdoor lifestyles
·         panelists from outdoor gear and apparel leaders REI and Northface, and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Association

** Implementing the AGO Recommendations – Thursday, May 26, 1:30—2:30 PM
·         Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, outlines the latest details on the implementation of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

** The State of America’s State Parks – Thursday, May 26, 10:00—11:30 AM
·         The critical role that state parks play in connecting Americans to the outdoors
·         Raising the overall “awareness” of state parks nationwide

** Getting Youth Outside: How do we do it? – Monday, May 23, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
·         educating youth about the environment and public lands
·         creating opportunities for youth job and leadership skills development in the outdoors
·         fostering a stewardship ethic
·         promoting recreation and play and why it’s critical to the health of communities and public lands

** Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Planning – Tuesday, May 24, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
·         the Forest Service’s recent strategic “Framework for Sustainable Recreation”
·         how private sector recreation interests are engaged to bring sustainable recreation to a higher level of recognition and support

** New Mobile Technology – Tuesday, May 24, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
·         overview of commercial augmented reality products available including those specific to outdoor recreation
·         how augmented reality can add value to park interpretation

** Collaborative Community Planning – Monday, May 23, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
·         overview of multi-entity collaboration and public participation
·         when multi-jurisdictional or public/private partnerships are needed to implement recreation plans


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