Fred and Suzi Dow Complete Lifelong Mission to Visit Every U.S. National Forest

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Camping couple is recognized for their achievement in the Congressional Record by Arizona U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

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“Suzi and Fred’s efforts indirectly stimulate the economy of these communities, at no cost to the government,” reads the Congressional Record. “The Dows are our guides to our nation’s greatest resource, our national forests.”

Fred and Suzi Dow, publishers of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide Website, were honored by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the Congressional Record for their dedication to promote the U.S. National Forests and their developed campgrounds. The couple recently completed their lifelong mission of visiting every national forest in the United States.

Gifford’s remarks in the Congressional Record include an appreciation of what the Dows’ unpaid efforts mean to the U.S. In 2003, the USDA Forest Service recorded more than 200 million visitors who contributed over $7.5 billion to the local communities in and around U.S. National Forests.

“Suzi and Fred’s efforts indirectly stimulate the economy of these communities, at no cost to the government,” reads the Congressional Record. “Like other pioneers of the West, the Dows possess a thirst for the unexplored. They are our guides to our nation’s greatest resource, our national forests.”

“To be honored by Congresswoman Giffords for our efforts, and to be singled out as a resource for our wonderful country, means a great deal to us,” says Suzi Dow. “The national forests are our greatest treasure and if we can introduce people and their families to them – and increase their appreciation of the recreational opportunities found in our forests – then we’ve done our job.”

The Dows completed their goal of visiting all developed national forests in the U.S. in the summer of 2008 when they visited Alaska’s national forests. What started as an idea after a weekend camping trip in 1994 has become a fulltime job. The Dows have visited 155 national forests and nine national grasslands while personally surveying 2,383 developed campgrounds and one tallgrass prairie. (Of the 156 national forests, one is in Puerto Rico, which the Dows have not yet visited.)

In addition to managing their U.S. National Forest Campground Guide Website, the only online resource that provides comprehensive information on national forest campgrounds across the U.S., the Dows are also frequently quoted by media outlets, including the NY Times, CNN, Newsweek, and USA Today, regarding national forest campgrounds and their camping expertise.

The U.S. National Forest Campground Guide Website offers up to 55 fields of information in each campground review, thousands of photographs of campgrounds and surrounding sights, and the personal perspectives of the Dows, who have actually visited all of the 2,383 campgrounds surveyed. In the last year, the Website received close to one million unique visitors. The Dows can be found on Facebook under “US-National-Forest-Campground-Guide.”

The Dows’ future plans include researching national grasslands and re-visiting selected national forests to ensure quality data for Website users. In addition, the Dows are turning their print guides into e-books to make them easy to download or view on e-book readers.

Both national forest and national parks emphasize resource preservation; however, national forests differ from national parks in that national forests are managed for multi-use purposes, including logging, cattle grazing, water shed management, and recreation. Visitors can enter many national forests and hike their trails without paying a fee or obtaining a permit – versus a national park, most of which require an entry fee and permit. Campers usually pay a nominal fee when using national forest developed campgrounds. National forests are managed by the Forest Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

About Fred and Suzi Dow
Fred Dow retired from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1996. Suzi Dow is a former instructor at George Mason University. In 1996 the couple moved from their Virginia home to become full-time RVrs and to devote their full attention to their research. They now reside part-time in Bisbee, AZ. Fred and Suzi Dow have been featured in Newsweek, National Geographic, the NARFE Magazine (the National Association for Retired Federal Employees), and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as in local and regional publications including the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Daily Sun, and the Independent Record (Helena, MT).

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