Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative Records, 1988-2020

Overview of the Collection

Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative Records
1988-2020 (inclusive)
.25 linear feet, (1 box)
Collection Number
MSS 419
The Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative (IRTI) Records consist of the budgets, cooperative agreements, and planning documents related the creation and management of the IRTI, a coalition of state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations working together to provide Idaho citizens and visitors with statewide recreation opportunities, founded in 1988.
Boise State University Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
1910 University Drive
Boise ID
Telephone: 2084263990
Access Restrictions

Collection is available for research.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The records of the Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative consist of the operating plans, budgets, cooperative agreements, and interagency agreements from the Initiative from 1988-2021.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative (IRTI) was created in 1988. This coalition of state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations worked together to provide Idaho citizens and visitors with statewide recreation opportunities.

IRTI developed public-private partnerships and collaborative efforts among various agencies, organizations, groups, non-profit groups, and individuals to improve public information, services, and projects associated with recreation and tourism throughout the State of Idaho.  

IRTI was the coordinating entity for statewide recreation and tourism projects, guided by the IRTI Steering Committee, comprised specialists with on-the-ground expertise in recreation, including representatives from land management agencies, recreation providers, natural resources, and tourism experts. This Committee was responsible for networking and information-sharing; funding, expertise, project coordination, communication, and other collaborative services. IRTI encouraged responsible, healthy, and memorable outdoor experiences for all users (citizens and visitors alike), which ultimately aimed to bring economic benefit to communities across the state from outdoor recreation and tourism.

Additional information can be found on IRTI's official website:

A Condense History of the Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative (written by Meggan Laxalt Mackey)

1988: U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Robertson challenged each national forest to identify partnerships and resources to elevate recreation as a priority goal. This resulted in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, release of America's Great Outdoors: National Recreation Strategy. Ronald Reagan's White House Task Force Report on Outdoor Recreation called for improved collaboration among local, federal, and private organizations.

Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus strongly supported an emphasis on outdoor recreation. Soon, an idea surfaced to create an initiative in Idaho that focused on Idaho's recreation as a marketable commodity Partnerships were encouraged among federal, state, and private entities statewide to improve public information; share funding for facility operations; conduct inventories of outdoor places such as campgrounds, picnic spots, paths, trails, boat launches and docks, and sports areas.

August 1988: U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation sign an agreement to begin a statewide recreation initiative. Idaho's Forest supervisors and Governor Andrus supported the effort.

September 1988: Jack Lavin, retired U.S. Forest Service supervisor, assumes role as the first "Idaho Recreation Initiative Coordinator." The position was under the director of Idaho Parks and Recreation. Lavin develops the "Idaho Recreation Initiative" (IRI) Plan to "create a safe place for a number of agencies to discuss recreation and tourism and to develop a mechanism for crafting solutions and sharing money."

By December of 1988, Lavin's IRI Plan identified the following needs:

-Conduct an assessment/inventory of resources, including Visitor Centers

-Hold an Idaho Recreation Conference for recreation and travel professionals, agency/business leaders

-Provide marketing training to interagency personnel, and "IdahoHost" visitor services

-Develop and publish annual 'Stockholders Report,' National Forests book, maps,vIdaho Campground Directory, Camping and Picnic Guide, Scenic Byways, Wildlife Guide, directories, calendar of events, and other publications

-Actively participate and coordinate with tourism councils and Chambers of Commerce

-Develop "one-stop" information services with video/walk-in kiosks, visitor centers, 1-800 information telephone lines, US West insert on recreation, bulletin boards

-Host travel editor tours and sponsor advertisements featuring recreation and tourism (Trails, scenic byways and adventure roads, sites, cabins, campgrounds, summer and winter recreation activities, and agency programs)

-Produce "Outdoor Idaho" video and other video/print products

January-October 1989: Progress reports to IRI, Governor Andrus, and agency leaders indicated steady progress under Lavin's Idaho Recreation Initiative (*IRI), including publications; trails working groups; marketing strategy with the Department of Commerce; "All Idaho Outdoor Days" (June) with a Free Camping Day - USFS/BLM/COE/Idaho Power/State Parks, in conjunction with an IDFG Free Fishing Day; statewide meetings of agency personnel to "increase knowledge on marketing, partnership, and customer satisfaction." University of Idaho provides research assistance and conference planning committee input.

Lavin articulated three main points in a memo to Governor Cecil Andrus staffer Andy Brunelle on 8/10/89:

1. Developing partnerships between agencies/private sector

2. Improving customer service/information

3. Marketing recreation opportunities

Initial IRI partners were Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, US Forest Service, and Commerce, Idaho Department of Commerce *These agencies soon were joined by Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Transportation Department, National Park Service. Later, US Fish and Wildlife Service joined. Other partners through the years: Idaho RV Campground Association, Idaho Association of Outfitters and Guides, Idaho Power Company, University of Idaho, Boise State University, Audubon Society, Idaho Department of Lands, Friend of Idaho State Parks, and more.

September-October 1989: A major Idaho Recreation Initiative goal is accomplished by Lavin and his IRI team, the first ever Idaho Governor's Conference on Recreation, hosted in Sun Valley, 9/30-10/2/1989.

The Statement of Purpose, Schedule and Activities document articulated a "two-statement purpose:"

1. Integrating Idaho's recreation providers.

2. Working together to better serve the customer.

It also stated that "Recreation providers are defined as governmental agencies and private companies and businesses that provide facilities, opportunities, and services to people for the purpose of recreation. This definition fully encompasses all those considered to be part of tourism industry...Customers are defined as any person considered to be a user of recreation tourism facilities and services. These are residents and non-residents of the State of Idaho."

The three-day conference hosted four sessions focused on Partnerships, Marketing, Funding, and Customer Service/Information. Daily activities included presentations, facilitated workshops, and field trips, with discussions focused on roles, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, responsibilities, solutions to problems, and expanding networks.

Governor Cecil Andrus was the second-day banquet host. The conference was a resounding success with about 350 attendees. This proved to be foundational to recreation efforts in Idaho, as annual Conferences on Recreation and Tourism have been hosted for many years since 1989.

1990-2019: The Idaho Recreation Initiative was renamed the "Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiative" (IRTI) in to include tourism aspects of recreation to benefit the state's economy and encourage more visitorship to the state in 1992.

IRTI was instrumental in leading recreation and tourism efforts statewide for years, including:

-Recreation marketing strategy, travel studies, tourism research

-Annual recreation and tourism conferences

-Statewide Scenic and Backcountry Byways system

-Rec fee demo project, VIP passes (which later evolved into the State "Passport program," LWCF planning

-Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation/Tourism report every 5 years (LWCF requirement)

-Watchable Wildlife Program management and associated program, signs, and publications

-Trail designations, historic commemorations (ie; Oregon Trail Sesquicentennial)

-Publications: Idaho campground directory, Scenic Byways brochures, Idaho Watchable Wildlife and Birding Trail viewing guide(s), Watchable Wildlife poster, 101 Things to Do Outside

-Visitor information services at sites, kiosks, 1-800 phone lines, websites, speaker presentations

-Interpretive center, visitor enter, and other visitor location support

-Outdoor public events (ie; Free Fishing Day) and video/TV publicity (ie; Incredible Idaho)

-Mapping and GIS information systems (ie; Outfitter and Guides, statewide trail mapping)

-Public outreach campaigns (ie; OHV-ATV awareness, Stay on Trails, Firewood: Find It/Leave It)

-Motorized and non-motorized trails, information, education

-Education programs (Be Outside Idaho, Bird by Bird, and Watchable Wildlife)

IRTI Leadership: 1988 - 2019

Jack Lavin, Coordinator: September 1988 - September 2007. First and longest IRTI Coordinator: visionary, planner, motivator, convenor, and collaborator. IRTI "is" because of Jack Lavin. Coordinator Words of Wisdom: "There are no Junior Partners. We are all at the table." Jack left this world in 2013, leaving it a better place for us all.

Vicki Jo Lawson, Coordinator: October 2007 - August 2013. Second IRTI Coordinator, giving six years of energy and direction to IRTI. She invigorated partnerships, shepherded projects such as GIS/Mapping, Invasive Species and motorized vehicle campaigns; gained health/medical partners for the Idaho Children and Nature Network (Be Outside, Idaho) listening sessions; led national visitor use monitoring, rec fee projects, and Visit Idaho Playgrounds, and worked with public groups, legislators, agencies, and businesses. She helped start Idaho's "Dark Skies Reserve," and continues to be involved in outdoor recreation.

Rick Just, Coordinator: September 2013 - December 2018. Rick followed as Coordinator, using his many years in outdoor recreation as the "glue" to hold efforts together. Rick was a member of IRTI before he became a coordinator, using his expertise to lead SCORP; the state outdoor information kiosk system; RV Campground Directory; and communications efforts. He is the Director of the Writers at Harriman program and is the Friends of Idaho State Parks President, as well as an Idaho Writers Guild Board Member. Rick is a well-known Idaho author who has published many books.

Meggan Laxalt Mackey, Coordinator: 2019-2020. IRTI Coordinator Meggan was a longtime IRTI member from her 30-year federal career as a public information officer. She helped with IRTI projects such as the Watchable Wildlife Guide, Idaho State Access Trail Sesquicentennial, visitor centers, trails, and interpretive signs, and public publications. She co-founded the Idaho Children and Nature Network (Be Outside Idaho) and Bird by Bird Idaho with other IRTI partners. She holds a Masters in Historical Research/Public History, is active in the Basque community, and published Lekuak: The Basque Places of Boise, Idaho. Meggan owns and operates Studio M Publications and Design in Boise, Idaho.

Jennifer Okerlund, Advisor: 2003-2019, IRTI Project Manager, IRTI advisor and IDPR liaison. Jennifer has been with IRTI since she started with Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, bringing positive energy, communications expertise, and proactive approaches to public access and the growing impact of recreation tourism on our state's economy. Jenn is another co-founder the Idaho Children and Nature Network (Be Outside, Idaho). She is the Executive Director of the Idaho Forest Products Commission (and proud mom of Hannah).

Andy Brunelle, Advisor: Andy has demonstrated leadership, guiding IRTI with his public policy and legislative expertise. He has been the capitol city governmental coordinator for the Intermountain Region of the US Forest Service since 2001. Andy witnessed the formation of IRTI in 1988 when he served as former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus as a natural resource advisor. Andy was instrumental in the collaborative IRTI OHV outreach project, and has provided public policy advice, helping to make IRTI a national recreation model.

Anne Chambers, Advisor: Since 2001, Anne has been the Executive Director of the Idaho RV Campgrounds Association (IRVCA). Her foresight to publicize a directory of camping across the State of Idaho led to studies of recreational vehicle tourism in the state, and the impact of RV and camping to the state's economy. Anne has been a member of IRTI since 2001, and leaves her post this year in 2019 as the IRVCA Executive Director, and one of IRTI's longest-term members.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item description], Idaho Recreation and Tourism Initiatve Records, Box [number] Folder [number], Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by Meggan Laxalt Mackey in 2023.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Idaho Children and Nature Network / "Be Outside Idaho" (BOT) 2009-2020
1 2 30 Year Anniversary Legacy Project 2018-2019
1 3 Agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) 1988-2021
1 4 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cooperative Agreement 2019
1 5 Budgets and Operating Plans 1988-1995
1 6 Budgets and Operating Plans 1996-2008
1 7 Budgets and Operating Plans 2019-2020

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Idaho--Politics and government
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Politics and government
  • Recreation
  • Tourism