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Kempthorne Receives Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award

The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, was honored by America’s recreation community leaders at the 20th Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award dinner hosted by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) in Washington, D.C. June 10.

Since 1989, the winner of the Sheldon Coleman Award has been selected by a distinguished panel of more than 100 recreation and conservation community leaders across the country and presented to an individual whose “personal efforts have contributed substantially to enhancing outdoor experiences in America.”

Secretary Kempthorne was a recreation champion during his service in the U.S. Senate where he led successful efforts to create a sustainable funding source for building and maintaining trails and promoted balance between resource protection and outdoor fun. The award recognizes the Secretary’s championship of recreation programs during his two terms as Governor of Idaho and his remarkable leadership as the nation’s Secretary of the Interior. In addition to tangible successes in park funding and his national leadership of efforts to increase outdoor activities by American youth, Secretary Kempthorne brought about fundamental changes in the relationships among national interests in the environmental, conservation and recreation arenas. The new cooperation and conversation will have a lasting benefit for the shared legacy of parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters.

The recreation community also applauds the Secretary’s support for the Take Pride in America program and its messages of volunteerism and responsible use of the outdoors.

June was officially declared Great Outdoors Month by President George Bush and twenty-eight of America’s governors. President Bush’s proclamation, issued for the fifth consecutive year, was released “to honor those who work to keep our natural places beautiful and to celebrate some of our country’s favorite outdoor pastimes.” The President urged all Americans to “observe this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to take time to visit and enjoy the great outdoors.”

The Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award dinner is a featured event of Great Outdoors Week 2008, during which America’s recreation community leaders gather in Washington, D.C. to take part in meetings and events designed to increase the visibility of outdoor recreation on the national policy-making level, heighten the understanding and appreciation of recreation’s importance to the nation’s health, economy and quality of life, and provide an opportunity to highlight key recreation policy initiatives and programs and to recognize outstanding leadership on behalf of outdoor recreation.

The Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award was established in 1989 in honor of Sheldon Coleman (1901-1988), longtime Chairman of The Coleman Company and a visionary champion of outdoor recreation and conservation. Winners are selected by a national panel of recreation and conservation leaders from both the private and public sectors. Among past honorees are former President George Bush, National Geographic Society Chairman Gil Grosvenor, U.S. Senators John Breaux, Frank Murkowski and the late John Chafee, U.S. Representatives Jim Oberstar and Ralph Regula and former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

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