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George H.W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush

President George H. W. Bush, a Legacy in America’s Great Outdoors


During ceremonies this week in the U.S. Capitol and at the Washington Cathedral, George H.W. Bush was honored for his leadership, his patriotism and his remarkable circle of friends. His love of boating and fishing and the great outdoors was referenced multiple times – including talk of his boat, Fidelity, a not-too-traditional fishing boat – a high-powered cigarette. Not discussed was another anomaly – the lefthanded president typically used fishing rods for righthanders simply inverted.

 

His signature on a tent as Vice President.

 

ORR has assembled pictures and media accounts of the 41st President’s contributions to America’s Great Outdoors. Among the highlights: 

  • Articles during his tenure as vice president highlighting his conviction that recreation “recharged his batteries” – a story told in consumer recreation media, inflight magazines and more; 
  • Media stories that told of his visits to more than a dozen federal recreation sites, including his multi-day campout in Glacier National Park. U.S. Senator Alan Simpson and his wife accompanied the Bushes on that trip, which produced an especially joyous picture which appeared in many publications. In addition, he visited Grand Teton NP several times – including for his Clean Air Act unveiling, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Everglades, Sequoia National Forest, Black Hills National Forest, the National Elk Refuge, Oregon’s Rogue River, and urban units like Anacostia Park in DC;
  • His role in signature conservation efforts, including enactment of the Wallop-Breaux Amendments to the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act in 1984, adding recreational boating fuel taxes – and his subsequent efforts to defend this great success from attacks from the Congress and OMB;
  • His championship of public-private partnerships, which led to concessioner operation of most national forest campsites;
  • His commitment to honoring the nation’s outdoor legacy with a new National Scenic Byways System, created in 1991;
  • His push for volunteerism under Take Pride in America, and for retention of entrance and recreation fees at federal sites to supplement appropriations; 
  • Major funding increases for federal recreation sites under the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and through the Federal Lands Highway Program boosting park and refuge roads.

His support for outdoor recreation resulted in a full-page USA Today story in 1990 featuring a caricature – the original artwork hangs in ORR’s office. The president developed strong, lasting relations with many recreation industry leaders, according to ORR, including those at The Coleman Company, Bass Pro Shops, Huffy Corp., and more, hosting the group multiple times at the White House.

He was honored in 1990 with the industry’s Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award.

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