Visitor experiences on America’s public lands and waters will be front and center on Capitol Hill this week. The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and Environment will hold a hearing this Wednesday on “Improving the Visitor Experience at National Parks.” The hearing will feature recreation leaders from the state and federal levels, as well as private-sector partners, including:
Glenn Casamassa, associate deputy chief of the Forest Service, discussing the more “friendly” approach to recreation now being implemented by the agency—with a default “yes” when responding to permit and related requests—and the ski-area model of public and private partnerships.
Linda Lanterman, director of Kansas State Parks, who will discuss how states are becoming more market-driven in supplying recreation opportunities, including “learn to…” programs, modern campgrounds and even dynamic pricing.
Chris Edmonston, president of the BoatU.S. Foundation, who is expected to urge Members to be sure that tight budgets don’t deny Americans access to federal lands for recreation. He will also share past experiences where budget-forced changes actually had positive outcomes — as with its towboat program — and is expected to speak on behalf of recreation participants, raising the importance of technology (where government is often the last-adapter) to manage activities in sensitive areas like Biscayne National Park.
Rick Cables, VP of Vail Resorts, a major visitor services provider on federal lands (managing multiple ski areas on national forests and serving as a park concessioner in Grand Teton National Park), discussing ways to allow the federal government’s partners to be nimble and responsive to visitors, and to invest more in creating high-quality experiences; and a witness expected to be an advocate for helping small businesses provide services on lesser-utilized federal lands.
The hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. in 2247 Rayburn House Office Building, and can be livestreamed by following this link.
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