Cummins Produces Two-millionth Diesel Engine for Ram Trucks

Cummins Inc. has produced its two-millionth diesel engine for Ram Trucks, highlighting the latest milestone in a storied partnership that spans four decades.

cumminsThe 350-horsepower, 6.7-liter, in-line 6-cylinder turbo diesel is distinguished by its “Cummins Red” rocker cover and breather.

But despite its 800 pound-foot peak torque rating, the historic engine—feted at a Cummins plant in Columbus, Indiana—will not see service. Instead, it will go on display, touring the U.S., according to a Chrysler Group news release.

“The Ram Truck-Cummins diesel partnership is one of the industry’s most enduring and certainly fitting of such a tribute,” says Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico.

“Both companies have benefited greatly, but Ram diesel customers are the real beneficiaries. Every day they experience the toughness and capability a Cummins-powered Ram can deliver.”

Cummins began supplying engines to Chrysler Group in 1988. Today in North America, only Ram-brand pickups and chassis cabs feature the coveted Cummins “C” logo.

“I am immensely proud of our association with Cummins,” says Bob Lee, Chrysler Group Vice President and Head of Engine and Electrified Propulsion Engineering.

“And I have no qualms matching our truck diesels against those of any competitor for performance and durability.”

For 2013, Cummins-powered Rams boast capabilities and features include:

  • Best-in-class torque and a 10 percent fuel-economy improvement
  • Exclusive dual-inlet “Ram Active Air” that adjusts induction according to driving conditions for optimal performance
  • “Smart” exhaust brake for smoother driving characteristics
  • Best-in-class 15,000-mile oil-change interval
  • A new cooling system for improved performance and durability
  • B20 fuel capability
  • Next-generation Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and diesel exhaust fluid system with range of up to 4,000 miles between refills
  • Dual fuel filtration system for enhanced reliability and durability in virtually every climate and environment
  • Unsurpassed powertrain warranty – five years/100,000 miles

Cummins-Diesel-Built-for-RamThe Chrysler Group-Cummins partnership traces its beginnings to 1985, when development work began on a 5.9-liter 12-valve in-line 6-cylinder turbo diesel. When it launched in 1989, it was rated at 160 horsepower and 400 pound-foot of peak torque—less than half the numbers for today’s High-Output 6.7-liter Cummins turbo diesel.

In the 2013 Ram Heavy Duty pickups, the top-line Cummins engine makes 385 horsepower and a best-in-class 850 pound-foot of torque.

Other notable events in the evolution of Cummins diesels produced for Chrysler Group include:

  • 24-valve design introduced in model-year 1998.5
  • Adoption of high-pressure common-rail fuel delivery in 2003
  • Named to Ward’s 10 Best Engines list in 2004
  • Displacement increased to 6.7 liters from 5.9 liters in model-year 2007.5
  • Met 2010 EPA emissions certification in 2007


Ram Truck
The Ram Truck brand continues to establish its own identity and clearly define its customer since its launch as a standalone vehicle brand.

The Ram Truck brand has the most innovative lineup of full-size trucks on the market. Ram Truck has emerged as a full-size truck leader by investing substantially in new products, infusing them with great looks, refined interiors, durable engines, and features that further enhance their capabilities.

Chrysler Group LLC
Chrysler Group LLC, formed in 2009 to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat S.p.A., produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT, and Fiat vehicles and products. With the resources, technology, and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, the alliance builds on Chrysler Group’s culture of innovation, first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925, and Fiat’s complementary technology that dates back to its founding in 1899.

Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Chrysler Group’s product lineup features some of the world’s most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler, all-new Dodge Dart, Ram 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, and Fiat 500.

Worth Pondering…
I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.

—Albert Einstein

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Norcold Over RV Refrigerators

Thousands of consumers in California and Florida that purchased Norcold recreational vehicle and boat refrigerators are now finding out these products may have a design defect making them a fire hazard risk, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based law firm recently announced.

Zimmerman Reid36018_3738Zimmerman Reed represents RV owners that recently filed a lawsuit alleging that Norcold knew of the RV refrigerator fire risk, but hid that information from the public. People who purchased a Norcold-brand gas absorption refrigerator are being asked to contact the firm to find out if they have a legal claim.

Through this class action Plaintiffs challenge the unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices of Defendants in connection with their designing, manufacturing, assembling, promoting, marketing, supplying, selling, recalling, retrofitting, and otherwise placing into the stream of commerce gas absorption refrigerators for use in RVs.

According to the complaint, since at least 1997, Defendants have designed, manufactured, assembled, sold, and otherwise placed into the stream of commerce three models of gas absorption refrigerators for installation and use in RVs, including six cubic feet (the “N6” Series), eight cubic feet (the “N8” Series), and twelve cubic feet (the “1200” Series), all of which share common design and manufacturing defects.

The complaint further indicates that Defendants’ gas absorption refrigerators have caused and/or contributed to at least 2,000 fires since 1999, resulting in over $48 million in property damage claims, personal injuries, and at least one death. As of the date of this complaint, defendants are receiving new fire claims involving their gas absorption refrigerators at a rate of 1 to 2 per day.

3-way_cycleAll of Defendants’ gas absorption refrigerators share the same technology, which involves a process whereby a solution of ammonia, water, sodium chromate, and hydrogen gas is heated by electricity or propane until it boils (approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit), releasing ammonia gas.

The gas circulates through a series of tubes at approximately 450 psi. As the ammonia gas is first condensed to liquid, and then evaporated through interaction with the hydrogen gas, heat is removed from the refrigerator box, causing the temperature in the box to decrease and providing the refrigeration effect. The series of tubes is referred to as a “cooling unit”, and includes the heat source (propane and electric), as well as a condenser, evaporator, absorber, and solution tank.

Fires are caused when defects in the refrigerator design release the flammable gases, which can then explosively ignite and spread quickly through the refrigerator compartment and into the passenger area of the RV.

In 2000, the company issued a series of limited product safety recalls for their Norcold RV refrigerator, and that if retrofitted with a thermal sensor, the refrigerators would be safe to use.

672_stIn fact, this so-called fix caused further harm to consumers by retrofitting the defective refrigerators with a device that masks the defects by disabling the electronic controls within the refrigerator before the refrigerator has a chance to ignite a fire. The harm caused by this is felt when the refrigerator malfunctions and fails, and the retrofit device permanently disables the electronic controls, the law firm claims.

The firm has filed a class action lawsuit in with the Superior Court of California seeking a jury trial.


Norcold Class Action Complaint

To read the entire Norcold Class Action Complaint, click here.

Zimmerman Reed

Zimmerman Reed was founded in 1983 and has tailored its thinking to meet the needs of its clients and the public.

Over the past twenty years, Zimmerman Reed has represented tens of thousands of clients in both individual and class action cases.

A class action is a legal tool which allows individuals who have experienced a common injury to assert their claims in an affordable and efficient manner. Class actions deter businesses from using deceptive business practices or finding a way out of accountability by committing multiple “minor” violations. The class action empowers individuals who have been wronged but cannot afford to engage in lone combat against a powerful defendant and all its available resources.

Address: 1100 IDS Center, 80 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: (612) 341-0400 or (800) 755-0098 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
—Margaret Mead

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Livin’ Lite Restyles Interior Cabinetry

Wakarusa, Indiana-based Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC, introduced an altogether restyled interior cabinetry look in its line of ultra-light campers at the recent National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Livin’ Lite cherry interior
Livin’ Lite cherry interior

“As Livin Lite continues to evolve our unique all-aluminum and composite built product line-up to better fit in with mainstream buyers, we listened to both our dealers and customers about what we can do better,” Scott Tuttle, president of Livin’ Lite said in a news release.

“What we heard was we needed to soften up our interiors even more, and possibly eliminate some of the shiny, aluminum edges and trim on the cabinetry and walls.

“Well, we did just that with our new optional black powder coated trim package, which is available in our traditional maple cabinetry or our new rich, cherry cabinetry.

“While we will still build a number of units with the bright aluminum trim, especially in our toy hauler lines, this new powder coated look really helps our unique wood-free products attain a true residential look.”

The new interior packages are available in the Livin’ Lite’s popular Camplite travel trailers and truck campers, and will also be featured in an ultra lightweight fifth wheel that Livin’ Lite plans to launch in 2013.

Earlier this year, Livin’ Lite received a No. 1 rating for ultra-lightweight towables from third-party, consumer-produced JR Consumer Resources.

Livin’ Lite was the only manufacturer to garner an overall rating of “10” – the highest possible rating – in the highly competitive category.

There were also “above average” and “economy” categories.


Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC

Livin' Lite-VRV-CollageLivin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles manufactures modern-looking lightweight all-aluminum camping trailers, travel trailers, truck campers, and utility trailers under three brands: Quicksilver automotive tent camper line, Camplite enclosed travel trailer line, and the VRV camping/cargo trailer line.

Because the campers are so lightweight, they can be towed by even the smallest cars. Livin’ Lite’s Quicksilver camper was named Roaming Times’ Green RV of the year in 2008 for its energy-saving lightness, long-life all-aluminum construction, and completely formaldehyde-free construction.

Livin’ Lite was identified as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. in the September 2010 issue of Inc. magazine.

Address: P.O. Box 528, Wakarusa, IN 46573

Phone: (574) 862-2228


Worth Pondering…

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.

—Arthur Ashe

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California to Restrict Fifth Wheel Length

Please Note: Following is a letter from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) Government Affairs Department updating members on the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) restrictions on the length of fifth-wheel trailers.

rvia-logoWe wanted to give you a quick update on RVIA’s activities in regard to the problem of California DMV refusing to title or register fifth wheel trailers that exceed 40 feet in length. Although California is currently only focusing on fifth wheels, a similar situation could arise regarding travel trailers since both fifth wheels and travel trailers are considered “trailer coaches” under California law.

Although there has been no change in law, the California DMV issued a Vehicle Industry News in October to its field offices informing them that a registration application form for a fifth wheel trailer “must include the length and width in inches” and that any unit exceeding 40 feet in length from the “foremost point of the trailer hitch to the rear extremity of the trailer body” is considered a mobile home, rather than a vehicle, that must be registered with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

And while the vehicle length is not required on the MSO, the DMV registration and title application (REG 397, REG 343 and REG 31), most of which are filed by RV dealers, are required to include the length and width of the vehicle in inches.

This new DMV enforcement on the length of fifth wheel trailers is problematic for the RV industry because models in excess of 40 feet will no longer be considered “recreation vehicles” under California law and therefore not able to be titled or registered as a vehicle with DMV. Instead, any fifth wheel trailer exceeding 40 feet in length would only be able to be titled and registered as a mobile home, subject to the titling and registration policies of the HCD, and could only be moved on the highways with a special permit.

In addition, it could create numerous other legal issues if a fifth wheel trailer is determined to be something other than a vehicle.

california_state_flagIt should be noted California allows the “operation” of a trailer and tow vehicle so long as the combination does not exceed 65 feet. The bordering states allow fifth wheels and travel trailers of up to 45 feet (Arizona and Oregon) or only restrict the total combination length (Nevada), so it is very possible that these out-of-state fifth wheel or travel trailers could legally be operated on California highways, even when a similar trailer could not be registered in the state.

This creates the strange anomaly that a fifth wheel trailer exceeding 40 feet in length could be legally operated in California by an out-of-state resident as a vehicle, but a California in-state resident would need to register the unit as a mobile home and require a special permit to move the unit. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia restrict the length of a fifth wheel or travel trailer to 40 feet or less.

Our California lobbyists are checking with DMV to determine what precipitated this new directive on fifth wheel trailer length, and to see if the Department is open to possible solutions through regulations/policies.

However, because of California’s statutory framework, it is likely that RVIA will need to pursue a legislative solution in order to solve the problem. Although a legislative solution could not be pursued until January 2013 when a bill could be introduced, RVIA would request the DMV to stand down enforcement until a legislative solution has been considered by the legislature. We have come up with some potential solutions:

Change the way DMV measures fifth wheel and travel trailers to be identical to how semitrailers are measured (maximum of 40 feet from “kingpin to rearmost axle”);

Remove the maximum length restriction on fifth wheel and travel trailers so long as the combination of trailer and tow vehicle was 65 feet or less, as is currently done in several states, including the bordering state of Nevada;

Amend the section of the California Vehicle Code on length (Sec. 35400) to allow all RVs to be up to 45 feet in length, similar to the treatment of fifth wheel and travel trailers in bordering states of Arizona and Oregon; or

Amend Section 35400 to some other length between 40 and 45 feet for RVs other than motorhomes.

restrictions_thumbWhile each of these potential solutions holds promise for solving the problem, none is perfect or will be easy to get through the Legislature. In the meantime, RVIA and our lobbyists will continue to explore all potential options to resolve this issue.

Worth Pondering…

There’s nothing wrong with Southern California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn’t cure.

—Ross MacDonald, author (1915-1983)

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Start the New Year Off with a First Day Hike

With New Year’s Day just around the corner, people everywhere are zeroing in on their new year’s resolutions for 2013.

First Day Hikes 6460810215_b6a5b965f7Some will vow to add more exercise into their routines, and others will promise not to stay indoors as much.

You can start the New Year off on the right foot, the left foot, or any foot by tackling both those resolutions at once and at the same time create a new family tradition by participating in a “First Day Hike” at a park near you, and together start off your year in a new direction.

America’s State Parks announces that all 50 state park systems will sponsor guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2013.

First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks.

State involvement has grown to the point where, for the first time in 2012, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

America’s State Parks anticipated 50 events but were amazed at the number of Americans willing to skip New Year’s Eve revelry in order to get up early January 1 and hit the trails.

They ended up with 400 outings that drew 14,000 people, hiking a total of more than 30,000 miles.

This year will be even bigger, with more than 660 events from a cross-country ski outing in Alaska to a sunrise hike in Hawaii.

A perfect holiday tradition for the whole family, a First Day Hike will help make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle while appreciating the beauty of nature.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Ring in the new year with a Summit Trail Hike. Come climb the rock and see what amazing geology, ecology, and cultural history Enchanted Rock has to offer. Meet at the gazebo at 9:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. for a 2-hour hike. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose from guided hikes led by rangers, volunteers, or Master Naturalists or choose your own trail with a hike that meets your desired difficulty and length.


Eighteen of Pennsylvania’s state parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day to help visitors ring in 2013 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature’s winter beauty.

“We are excited to join in hosting these hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.

“For the second consecutive year, First Day Hikes offer a great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories.”


Last year 3,708 people hiked 5,583 miles as part of Virginia State Parks 2012 First Day Hikes. Hikers are encouraged to bring field, guides, a natural journal, and a camera.


The Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails are offering eight guided hikes on New Year’s Day at venues statewide. It’s the second year Wyoming has participated. More than 500 people participated in the four hikes the state held last year.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the coming hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park or historic site.


In Texas the First Day Hikes vary in difficulty and fitness levels, and range from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails and along boardwalks, to special bird watching hikes, to climbs into the mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Most hikes are guided by state park staff and volunteers and feature an interpretive message about native plants, animals, or park history. The walks average one to two miles in length, but many also offer shorter or longer trek options as well. There’s something for everyone!

America’s State Parks

Bring a  hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m.  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Bring a hat, sturdy shoes, binoculars, camera, warm clothes, and water to Alamo Lake State Park in Arizona. The one mile hike begins at 9 a.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America’s State Parks is committed to promoting outdoor recreation in state parks as a way to address obesity, especially among children. Getting kids outside and unplugged from video games and other electronic media creates a unique connection with nature that promotes physical and mental well-being and encourages creativity and stewardship of our shared resources.

Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website.

To find a First Day Hike near you click on your state park of interest.


Worth Pondering…

So many trails…so little time…

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2013 RV Travel and Camping Guide to Texas Now Available

The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) has begun to distribute 250,000 copies of the 2013 RV Travel and Camping Guide to Texas, a free, four-color glossy magazine that lists more than 350 campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas and surrounding states.

TACO-logo-for-web1The 2013 guide, which highlights the fact that Texas is a birders paradise, includes detailed information on campgrounds, RV parks and resorts, as well as old western style maps, according to a news release.

“We focused on a birding theme this year because you can see more bird species in Texas than any other state in the union,” said Steve Haley of Arlington, Texas-based Steve Haley Designs, the lead designer of the 2013 guide.

But while it’s tempting to focus on exotic birds that fly through Texas on their way to Canada or Latin America, Haley said the guide includes photos of commonly seen birds that RVers are likely to see when they visit the various regions of Texas.

“We know we have a lot of RVers who are interested in birds,” Haley said, adding, “Texas is a birders’ paradise.”

Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive and CEO, said an initial batch of directories has already been sent to campgrounds, RV parks, travel information centers, and visitors bureaus across the state. Additionally, pallets of the guides were sent to Anderson’s Brochure Service who will distribute them at 24 shows across the Eastern part of the United States and Canada.

Texas-Guide-cover-20131-237x300Additional directories will be distributed at upcoming RV shows, including the San Antonio RV Show, January 3 to 6 in San Antonio; the All Valley RV Show, which takes place January 10-12 in Mercedes and the Houston RV Show, which will be held February 6-10 in Houston.

The 2013 directory provides detailed descriptions of more than 350 private campgrounds and RV resorts, or roughly two thirds of the private parks in Texas.

The directory is broken up into seven sections, each representing a distinct region of Texas. Locator maps are provided at the beginning of each section, with numbered listings of the campgrounds for each region. Campgrounds are also alpha-indexed by city and park name.

Each campground listing includes a grid that lists the park’s facilities, services, and amenities as well as driving directions, a miniature locator map and many parks have panoramic photos showing off what campers can experience.

The directory also features a Texas Saver Card, which provides 10 percent to 15 percent discounts at participating parks.

The 2013 directory also includes a separate section listing campgrounds with cabin and cottage rentals as well as a listing of park model manufacturers. Schaeffer said almost 25 percent of Texas campgrounds have cabin or cottage rentals. Many of the parks that offer cabin and cottage rentals also have sites for lease or for sale to park model owners.

Recreational park trailers or “park models” are 400-square foot, movable resort cottages. Typically upscale in appearance, they often include hardwood floors, bay windows, and lofts as well as cherry, oak, or maple cabinetry. And because park models are technically classified as recreational vehicles, they can be set up on leased or purchased sites in campgrounds and RV parks and used as weekend retreats or seasonal vacation dwellings.

RV and camping enthusiasts can order the nearly 150-page directory online by visiting the TACO consumer site (see details below). The 2013 RV Travel & Camping Guide to Texas is also posted on the website in digital page-turning format.


Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO)

Pair of Roseate spoonbills on South Padre Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Pair of Roseate spoonbills on South Padre Island, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) represents nearly 400 private campgrounds and RV resorts in Texas.

Started in 1972 by a group of five campground owners who felt there should be independent marketing and advocacy for the private park industry in Texas. Over the years, TACO has developed a significant consumer facing magazine with a distribution of 250,000, the most widely used website for RV parks and campgrounds in Texas, along with a presence in Austin to insure a positive consumer experience.

Address: 910 S. Crowley Road, Ste. 9-504, Crowley, TX 76036

Phone: (800) 657-6555 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

Texas is a state of the mind.

Texas is an obsession.

Above all,

Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.

—John Steinbeck

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Outdoor Recreation Participation Increases

More than 90 million U.S. residents age 16 and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011, up three percent from five years earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last week.

Combining Birding and Photography with our life on the road is like enjoying pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert following a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In addition to nearly 30 bird species found nowhere else in the US, the Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to an astonishing concentration of more widespread birds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In total, wildlife recreationists spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities, accounting for about one percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

These findings come from the final national report with results from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation released by the Census Bureau on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, according to a news release from the Census Bureau.

Conducted since 1955, the survey is one of the oldest continuing and most comprehensive recreation surveys in the U.S., collecting information on the number of anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers, as well as how often they participate in wildlife-related recreation and how much they spend on these activities.

According to the survey, wildlife recreationists spent $70.4 billion on equipment, $49.5 billion on travel, and $24.8 billion on other items, such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.

The number of people fishing, hunting, or both rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011, with 33.1 million people fishing and 13.7 million hunting.

The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The survey showed that 71.8 million people participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity, such as observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife.

Wildlife Watching Highlights
About 71.8 million U.S. residents observed, fed, and/or photographed birds and other wildlife in 2011. Almost 68.6 million people watched wildlife around their homes, and 22.5 million people took trips of at least one mile from home to primarily watch wildlife.

Of the 46.7 million people who observed wild birds, 88 percent did so around their homes and 38 percent on trips of a mile or more from home.

People spent $54.9 billion on their wildlife-watching trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $981 per spender.

Fishing and Hunting Highlights
Of the 33.1 million people who fished, 27.5 million fished in freshwater and 8.9 million in saltwater.

The most popular fish sought by freshwater anglers, excluding Great Lakes fishing, were black bass (10.6 million anglers) and panfish (7.3 million anglers).

The most popular fish sought by Great Lakes anglers were walleye and sauger (584,000 anglers) and black bass (559,000 anglers).

About 1.9 million people ice-fished and 4.3 million fly-fished.

Anglers spent $41.8 billion on fishing trips, equipment, and other items in 2011— an average of $1,262 per angler.

Of the 13.7 million hunters that took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds, and 2.2 million hunted other animals.

Ninety-three percent of hunters used a shotgun, rifle, or other similar firearm; 33 percent used a bow and arrow; and 22 percent used a muzzleloader.

Nearly all hunters (approximately 94 percent) hunted in the state where they lived, while 14 percent hunted in other states.

Hunters spent $33.7 billion on hunting trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $2,465 per hunter.

State reports with detailed information on participation and expenditures will be released on a flow basis beginning in January 2013, according to the release.

The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the initial data collection phase, the Census Bureau interviewed approximately 50,000 households nationwide to determine who in the household had fished, hunted, or watched wildlife in 2010 or 2011, and planned to do so again, states the release. In most cases, one adult household member provided information for all members.

In the second phase, a sample of individuals identified as likely anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers were interviewed; each individual had to be at least 16 years old and provided information pertaining only to his or her activities and expenditures.

All comparisons made in this news release are tested at the 0.10 significance level.

Worth Pondering…
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is a society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

—Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

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Bentsen Palm Village Awarded 2012 Park of the Year

Bentsen Palm Village has received the campground industry’s highest honor, the Park of the Year Award, from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).

Bentsen Palm Development 1173826v1v1The 250-site campground won the award in the medium size park category, which is based on several criteria, including customer service, employee training, operational excellence, national directory ratings, and community service, according to a news release.

Bentsen Palm Village General Managers Guy and Juanita Carvajal received the award during a November 30 ceremony at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which was hosted by ARVC.

Built 10 years ago by developer/builder Mike Rhodes and his wife, Lori, Bentsen Palm Village is located next to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park & World Birding Center and has a lot of visitors who come to enjoy the resort’s native plants, which host butterflies and birds.

“Our guests love to come bird watching and butterfly watching,” Carvajal said, adding that the park also has two miles of frontage along the Rio Grande River.

“We have pontoon boats that take people on the river for bird watching and nature tours.”

Although Bentsen Palm Village was built from scratch, the owners planted native trees and shrubs, which are becoming more beautiful each year as they mature, Carvajal said. The park was designated by Texas Parks & Wildlife as a certified wildscape and is the largest of its kind in Texas.

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site
Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort Super Site

Texas Wildscapes is a habitat conservation plan for rural and urban area. It enables Texans to contribute to wildlife conservation by developing wildlife habitats where they live, work, and play.

But while Bentsen Palms has a scenic setting, Carvajal said it’s the park’s exemplary customer service that results in high ratings.

“The majority of our business comes from referrals,” she said.

“I get a lot of calls from people and the first thing they say is, ‘We have some friends and they recommended your park.’”

Bentsen Palm Village has 5.5 miles of onsite hiking and biking trails as well as numerous organized activities and workshops, from couples dancing and Zumba classes to gourd painting, Swedish blanket making, water color painting, and woodshop.

The dog park at Bentsen Palm Village has become so popular that the owners recently added a second park so that guests could have separate running and play areas for big dogs and small dogs.

“About 70 to 75 percent of our guests have dogs, so these kinds of amenities are important,” Carvajal said.

Of course, while pet friendly amenities are attractive to Winter Texans, that’s not the only attraction at Bentsen Palm Village.

The 250-site resort recently set aside an open area of the park where its guests can grow their own organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

“It’s like a community garden,” Carvajal said, “but we give each guest a 10 by 10-foot section where they can put a stake with their name on it. They often grow kale, peppers, tomatoes, onions and radishes. Sometimes, they grow so much they bring it into the office to share.”


Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort

The colorful green jay is a common visitor to Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The colorful green jay is usually seen in brushy areas and dense woods in the lower Rio Grande Valley.. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort is one of the most unique RV Resorts in South Texas and is part of the 2,600-acre Master Planned Community of Bentsen Palm Development.

Bentsen Palm Village is located in South Mission at the entrance to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park on South Bentsen Palm Drive.

Bentsen Palm Village is only minutes from shopping, medical facilities, and easy access to Expressway 83.

Bentsen Palm Village offers over 250 large pull-through and back-in sites, full hookups, rental cabins and casitas, and native landscaping.

Super Sites offer a 10×12 storage building that can be locked and secured when necessary. The sites are extra-wide concrete pads that include a picnic table and a charcoal grill.

Bentsen Palm Village is affiliated with ARVC and a member of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Phone: (877) 247-3727 (toll free)


Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan

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SylvanSport Expands Manufacturing Facility

Brevard, North Carolina-based SylvanSport announces that the company recently opened an expanded manufacturing facility to support projected sales growth and facilitate new product development.

Meet the Go! All ready to Go! (Credit:
Meet the Go! All ready to Go! (Credit:

The new space more than triples the facility’s square footage.

“The building, when fully completed, will increase our production capacity significantly and be key to our growth as a company,” said Patrick Kennedy, operations manager, in a news release.

“It is part of the ongoing process to strengthen the SylvanSport brand and strive to be a leader among American-made gear manufacturers.”

The 18,000-square-foot renovated facility expands manufacturing capacity for the GO, SylvanSport’s signature multi-use adventure trailer, and provides additional space for new product development and production in 2013.

Additionally, the business offices will be renovated and expanded to accommodate newly added positions including production manager and sales manager.

SylvanSport opened an expanded manufacturing facility to support projected sales growth and facilitate new product development. (Credit:
SylvanSport opened an expanded manufacturing facility to support projected sales growth and facilitate new product development. (Credit:

“Our decision to expand in Brevard speaks to the tremendously supportive environment in western North Carolina for the outdoor industry. Organizations like Advantage West, Transylvania County, and the City of Brevard, along with the superb outdoor recreation make this a magical place,” said SylvanSport CEO Thomas Dempsey.

Swiss army knife of campers, the SylvanSport GO is the ultimate adventure aid.

There’s no better way to enjoy an adventure than with your favorite gear in tow.

GO is much more than a pop-up camper; it is an American made, gear-hauling, hyper-engineered, fully TIG-welded piece of mobile adventure gear.

“The GO, was designed from the frame out to be a one-of-a-kind mobile adventure trailer. Lightweight and easy to manage, the GO can be pulled by even the smallest of cars,” said Kyle Mundt, marketing director.

“The GO can carry up to a dozen bikes, kayaks, or any combination thereof. It is much more than a pop-up camper; it is an American made, gear-hauling, hyper-engineered, fully TIG-welded piece of mobile adventure gear.”

Earlier this year I reported that China’s copycat culture was impacting sales of the SylvanSport GO.

In July 2009, an online customer purchased a GO from SylvanSport in the U.S. and then freighted it to China where, according to SylvanSport, Wuyi TiandiMotion Apparatus Co., LTD. “reverse engineered and replicated it.”

According to an earlier news release, “The trailer is now being sold as a lower quality copy in both international and U.S. markets. Wuyi Tiandi Motion Apparatus Co. has gone as far as copying the SylvanSport color scheme and marketing materials such as photos and video directly from”

SylvanSport was granted three U.S. trademarks in 2008, along with two U.S. patents and three U.S. design patents in 2010.

Founded in 2004 by veteran outdoor industry executive and entrepreneur Thomas Dempsey, SylvanSport designs, manufactures, and distributes mobile adventure gear from its headquarters in Transylvania County, North Carolina.

The company is committed to developing smart, efficient, visionary products that encourage responsible, and respectful enjoyment of the outdoors, said Mundt.



The GO was designed from the frame out to be a one-of-a-kind mobile adventure trailer that's even more versatile than a Swiss Army knife. (Credit:
The GO was designed from the frame out to be a one-of-a-kind mobile adventure trailer that’s even more versatile than a Swiss Army knife. (Credit:

Brevard, North Carolina-based SylvanSport was founded in 2004 to develop great gear to support an evolving sense of adventure. Adventure can be on a mountain, river, or in your backyard.

Their team brings decades of experience designing and making outdoor products from the most respected companies. They offer products that blend utility, quality, and value while respecting the purity of the places our adventures take us.

Address: 235 Commerce Street, Brevard, NC 28712

Phone: (828) 883-4292


Worth Pondering…

The only important thing about design is how it relates to people.

—Victor Papanek

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Variety of Activities Attract Winter Texans to Rio Grande Valley

During the summer months, Clyde and Kathy Janssen work as dance instructors at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, one of the most famous dance halls in America, which traces its roots to the Big Band Era of the 1930s and 40s.

The sighting of this Black-vented Oriole brought birders from around the world to Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Black-vented Oriole made its home a short distance from our RV site at Bentsen Palm Village. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But from November through April, the Janssens teach Jitterbug / Swing at Victoria Palms Resort in Donna. They also assist Grethe Sullivan in teaching salsa, cha cha, and other forms of ballroom dancing at the resort, according to a Texas Association of Campground Owners news release.

Victoria Palms Resort is one of many resorts across the Rio Grande Valley that offer dance classes as well as dancing to live and recorded music during the winter months.

“Dancing is one of the most popular activities at RV parks across the Rio Grande Valley,” Clyde Janssen said.

“It’s especially popular with empty nesters, whose kids have graduated from high school. It’s just mom and dad now. Now they have time for themselves and they can take time to do the things they’ve always wanted to do.”

A "Valley Specialty,: the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is a common sight at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and Wold Birding Center and other Valley nature spots. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A “Valley Specialty,: the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is a common sight at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and Wold Birding Center and other Valley nature spots. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The wonderful thing about dancing is it’s something couples can do together as opposed to doing something where they are competing against each other,” Janssen said, adding, “It helps build personal relationships.”

Roughly 90 percent of the RV parks and resorts in the Rio Grande Valley offers dance lessons as well as venues where Winter Texans can dance to their hearts’ content, said Kristi Collier, president and CEO of Welcome Home Rio Grande Valley, which markets 75 RV parks and resorts from Mission to South Padre Island.

Of course, dancing is just one of a growing array of activities being offered at Rio Grande RV parks.

Some parks have literally hundreds of activities, from sewing and quilting classes to exercise and meditation classes, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong as well as water aerobics and pickleball.

“If you’re bored down here, it’s your own fault,” Collier said, adding that many of the larger RV parks and resorts have multiple halls with breakout rooms for class and other activities and special events.

Many parks also have various arts and crafts classes, from painting to woodworking and lapidary, the art of jewelry making using fresh cut and polished stones.

Tom and Ayumi Towles have been teaching Winter Texans how to cut, grind, and set stones at the Llano Grande lapidary for 16 years. They also teach silver smithing and wire wrapping.

The lapidary shop is a unique feature, being the largest of only two lapidaries in the Rio Grande Valley. With 45 different machines available, guests of Llano Grande have unparalleled access to multiple aspects of this special craft. Lapidary shop guests pay for their materials, but the Towles provide instruction free of charge.

“We’ll normally have a dozen to 20 people a day who come in here and work,” Tom said.

“Most of the guys make jewelry for their wives. But they’ll also make bolos and belt buckles for themselves.”

Most work with various colors of jade, agates, jasper, and putrefied wood that they bring in from their travels, as well as local rocks they pick up in southern Texas, and coprolite which comes from western Colorado or eastern Utah.

“It’s petrified dinosaur dung,” Towles said. “It’s very pretty. It has lots of colors in it. It’s usually 70 to 100 million years old.”

Visitors to Santa Ana are often greeted with the raucous cry of the drab brown, scrawny-looking, turkey-like bird called a plain chachalaca, a bird that reaches its northern limits in the Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Visitors to Santa Ana are often greeted with the raucous cry of the drab brown, scrawny-looking, turkey-like bird called a plain chachalaca, a bird that reaches its northern limits in the Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Llano Grande’s lapidary shop also has various rocks as well as jewelry settings which are ordered from jewelry suppliers for those who need them.

Towles said most people who try making their own jewelry enjoy it.

“It’s like a bug that bites them and then they’re in here every day,” he said.

Further to the east, many of the Winter Texans who stay at Bentsen Palm Village enjoy the park’s woodshop, which is equipped with a variety of wood cutting machines.

“We have two volunteers who teach people in the park how to make beautiful wood bowls and other items,” said Juanita Carvajal, the park’s general manager.

Bensten Palm Village also has a craft room that is frequented by quilters and sewing enthusiasts. The park offers a variety of art classes, including gourd painting, Swedish blanket making and water colors.

“We also have line dancing and couples dancing and zumba classes,” Carvajal said.

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