Government Affairs Chair Update
AANR Government Affairs Chair
I enjoyed time at DeAnza Springs Resort where the AANR-West Convention and the AANR Convention were held back to back. What a tremendous opportunity to see a lot of people and talk government affairs at a local and national level.
It was good to see Gary Mussell from the Southern California Naturists Association and get his update on the activities related to the recent designation of a California County of San Luis Obispo Beach as an official nude beach. We have been actively supporting their efforts there and in Santa Barbara County for getting other traditional nude use beaches recognized by the municipalities that have jurisdiction over them. Many of us, maybe even most of us, started off skinny-dipping somewhere. Even the family swimming pool became a skinny-dippers paradise for some of us. Without public lands access a large number of us wouldn’t be active nudists today. Speaking of Gary Mussell, he was honored at the AANR Convention as the AANR Man of the Year for his work in support of nude recreation. Congratulations to Gary and thank you for your work.
AANR continues to support public land nude access. Through the Government Affairs Team (GAT) we support awareness campaigns and support local efforts to keep and maintain their nude sites. AANR-Western Canada and your GAT team at AANR just contributed to the Bare Buns Fun Run at Wreck Beach in Vancouver, B.C. At the convention we had T-Shirts from the last two Fun Runs in our auction. We have to wear clothes sometimes and what better way to display your support for nude recreation than with clothing advertising these efforts?
The convention auction is one of the fund-raising activities we use to fund efforts throughout the year. The cost of items like State Net bill tracking service and lobbying efforts are funded though direct donations to the Bob Page Legal Defense and Government Affairs Funds. We incur more costs on a regular basis than comes into the fund, and AANR supplements the direct donations with general funds during the annual budgeting process. This year we spent funds on AANR attendance at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Atlanta as well as the lobbying effort in support of Fire Island National Seashore’s (FIIS) Lighthouse Beach. Direct mailings to local members is an effective way to alert members of challenges to their right to nude use of local recreation sites.
I mention these activities because it points out the need for long term commitments to keep nude recreation sites. Whether it is working on the initial designation or maintaining already established sites, we need local involvement. One of our long term discussions is how to maintain an on-going local presence supporting the many sites where there is no organized local group. We look at the efforts South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association have made to create and maintain their beach ambassadors program. By being diligent they keep the locals informed when items that could impact the use of Haulover Beach, for example, come up. GAT needs more local representation throughout the states and provinces to make sure we get the word out when nudist venues come under attack or when the potential for designation of new areas comes up.
On the GAT team, our Federal GAT Chair John Hunter is always willing to provide written and oral information on the many regulations the Feds propagate that affect nude recreation. John’s efforts this year have ranged from providing information for the letters we wrote to the Chief Ranger at Fire Island to his briefs on the weekly newsletters he receives.
It was my honor to award John the 2013 GAT Service Award at the convention. And speaking of that award, a resolution was introduced at the Incoming board meeting to rename the GAT Award to the Alonzo Stevens Jr. Government Affairs Award. Alonzo’s widow was there when the Board adopted the resolution and she was deeply touched by the honor
The GAT Team members here have been discussing how we can be more effective in keeping local interest strong when the short term actions result in negative impacts to our sites. The answer is we must stay active. The local involvement of the Long Island TravaSuns and the efforts of SaveLighthouseBeach.com to keep a nudist presence on FIIS are important if we are to achieve our goal of restoring the nude use beach there. AANR will continue to send updates to our members locally as they occur. When new actions are needed we will share those items also. I will continue to share these issues here and in the Weekly Report updates all members can now access at the AANR.com website.
AANR is committed to protecting your right to nude recreation. Without the support of your membership we won’t have the ability to continue to provide diligent support for those rights. I am honored to be able to continue to receive the comments and support I get from those of you who write me about the efforts we are making. I thank those of you who have made suggestions for how to elevate the awareness of the positive aspects of nude recreation.