Agency initiative, employees recognized with American Recreation Coalition Beacon Award

The American Recreation Coalition honored the Forest Service with one of four Beacon Awards for outstanding successes in harnessing the power of technology to improve public recreation experiences and federal recreation program management. They also recognized Joe Meade, director of Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources, as a Recreation Legend.

The USFS National Technology and Development Program and Chief Information Office Enterprise Business Solutions Services developed and piloted a wireless digital content kiosk at four sites. The wireless digital content kiosk allows visitors to easily download maps, brochures, and other site-specific information to their mobile devices at high speed. Local staff simply upload content, including real-time alerts and frequent updates, through a USB drive. The digital content kiosks do not require internet or cellular connectivity and power consumption is minimal. These devices are ideal for remote locations using solar power and batteries.

The project team installed digital content kiosks at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center on Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Blue Mountain Recreation Area Trailhead on Lolo National Forest, and the Munising Interagency Visitor Center on Hiawatha National Forest.

Visitors can use the kiosks even when employees are not onsite. They can wirelessly download audio narratives, videos, photos, brochures, and maps that can be viewed on any browser and stored for later use. The equipment cost for the kiosks was minimal—approximately $300 for the wireless router, batteries, photovoltaic panel, and charge controller. The project team also installed and tested a wireless digital content kiosk at a fire incident command post, enabling the delivery of daily action plans and maps to fire personnel.

Joe Meade has served as director of Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources since 2013. He has worked to actualize a sustainable recreation agenda that contributes over $10 billion to the national economy and supports nearly 150,000 jobs. His work has helped the agency strengthen connections to communities, as it “shows up differently” where people live, work and play. Meade is able to see the broad picture in many parts and develop creative methods to solve problems.

In addition to his time as a Washington Office director, Meade has served as Forest Supervisor of Chugach National Forest, where his shared stewardship vision secured and invested more than $6 million in outside revenue, leveraged more with in-kind partnerships and contributed to vibrant relationships with surrounding communities and villages.

As National Accessibility Program Leader for Universal Design, Meade was responsible for the development and implementation of the agency’s Universal Accessibility Program and pioneered national design standards now guiding Universal Accessibility Design of all outdoor recreation sites, facilities and services. These designs are now used inside and outside the agency.

Meade’s 39-year career in the management and conservancy of public lands for the Forest Service has allowed him to champion ideas and practices that have made national forests and grasslands the country’s top provider of quality recreation opportunities and experiences.