Outdoor News December 22, 2017 - Explore! Outdoor News December 22, 2017 - Explore!

Outdoor News December 22, 2017

Iowa Great Places Program

If you live in a unique Iowa community with a strong vision for innovation and enhancing vitality and quality of life, while staying true to what makes your community unique, the Iowa Great Places Program can recognize your efforts and help bring those visions to reality. The program provides designation and supports the development of new and existing infrastructure intended to cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of neighborhoods, communities and regions in Iowa.

Trestle Park, Manning, IowaFive Iowa Great Places were awarded $1.3 million in grants for projects in their communities this year, among the awards:

  • Construction of a trail bridge in the Turkey River Recreational Corridor near Elgin. This new segment of the TRRC trail will start at the eastern side of Elgin, cross over the Turkey River to connect to the 900-acre Gilbertson Conservation Education Area and three Turkey River accesses, and end at the Turkey River access called ‘The Narrows.’ ($216,000)
  • Phase II development of Trestle Park in Manning. The goal of Phase II is to further develop the park into a unique experience for both locals and visitors by using nontraditional items. ($31,380) (Photo Credit: City of Manning, Iowa)
  • Wapsipinicon River Scenic Overlook at Pinicon Ridge County Park is a regional destination for nature and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. This project will create an open shelter and deck with views of the river. ($400,000)

Check out the program website for all the details.

Snowmobile Economy in Utah

Snowmobile Report CoverDeep powder and vast amounts of publicly accessible land offer Utahns and non-residents alike unparalleled winter recreation opportunities. For many winter recreationists, snowmobiling offers the ability to escape from the city, socialize with friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors. In addition to the psychological and social benefits of snowmobiling, the activity contributes substantially to the state’s economy. However, the magnitude of that contribution has been unknown until now.

The last economic impact study of snowmobiling on Utah’s economy was conducted in 2001. That study revealed snowmobiling accounted for 358 jobs and $8.5 million ($11.9 million in 2017 dollars) in labor income. Additionally, snowmobiling accounted for $22.0 million in local industry sales ($30.7 million in 2017 dollars) and $12.4 million in value added (the aggregate total of labor income, interest, rent, and profit; $17.3 million in 2017) to the state’s economy.

A new study from the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University details the economic impact of snowmobiling on Utah’s economy in 2017. The analysis is based upon data collected through a mail survey administered to a representative sample of households with a snowmobile registered for use within the state.

The results indicate that snowmobiling now accounts for 1,378 Utah jobs and $59.9 million in labor income. The findings also reveal snowmobiling accounts for $138.2 million in local industry sales and $88.4 million in value added to the state’s economy. The impact of snowmobiling on Utah’s economy is substantial. Last year alone, over $13 million in state and local tax revenues were generated by the activity. The authors suggest local business owners and snowmobile user groups use these findings to advocate for continued or improved protection and management of Utah’s high-quality snowmobile destinations.

Get the full report from the Institute’s website.


Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

Last week, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska and Debbie Dingell of Michigan re-introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 4647). Fortenberry who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, and is co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus said:

Jeff Fortenberry“This is an important and creative legislative initiative to protect ecosystems across our nation through constructive partnerships in states. The bill provides smart upstream policy to avoid triggering the ‘emergency room procedures’ of the Endangered Species Act. By effectively putting preventative measures in place, we can now better protect habitat and wildlife from becoming lost or endangered in the first place. This will benefit farmers, hunters, anglers, boaters, birders, hikers and other wildlife enthusiasts, as well as the burgeoning field of eco-tourism. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will also prove to be a powerful new tool to connect resource extraction policy with prudent resource recovery.”

Debbie DingellDingell added: “It has been proven over the decades that incredible gains in species conservation have been made with dedicated sources of funding. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act builds off the successes of previous efforts including Pittman-Robertson, Dingell-Johnson, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund by giving state fish and wildlife agencies additional resources they need to proactively manage at-risk wildlife species. As we work to realize the full promise of these cornerstone programs, I am proud to introduce this legislation to further that commitment with my Republican colleague from Nebraska, Mr. Fortenberry. We both love the outdoors and know we must work hard to protect our natural resources. Together we believe we can get something done that will help bring conservation into the 21st Century and complement the other successful programs that are currently in place.”

The National Wildlife Federation said: “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will redirect $1.3 billion of existing revenue annually to state-led wildlife conservation efforts, effectively allowing the states to more fully implement their State Wildlife Action Plans. This legislation follows the recommendation of a diverse group of energy, business, and conservation leaders. This group, known as the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, determined that an annual investment of $1.3 billion in revenues from energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters could address the needs of thousands of species, preventing them from needing to be added to the Endangered Species Act.  The $1.3 billion will come from existing revenues from energy and mineral fees on federal lands and waters. This is a small portion of the overall revenues from these sources.”

Recreation and Wildfires

The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana reported on Tuesday that the 2017 fire season in that state was costly for recreationists.

According to The Montana Expression 2017: 2017’s Costly Fire Season, Montana, along with many western states, experienced a severe fire season in the summer of 2017. According to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center (NRCC), fires consumed 1,276,456 acres of Montana lands. Nearly half of these lands are U.S. Forest Service owned. The severity of the fire season led Montana’s Governor, Steve Bullock, to declare a state of emergency at the beginning of September. At that time, the state had already exceeded the $30 million in its firefighting fund by $14.5 million. The NRCC estimates the total costs of fighting Montana’s wildfires topped $390 million. The combination of extreme firefighting costs and lower than expected revenues, generated a $200 million shortfall with the state government.

WildfireAs extensive and damaging as the 2017 fire season was, the lives, property, and wildlands lost to the fires and the expense incurred to fight them only tell a portion of the story. In 2016, visitors to Montana spent $3.04 billion on goods and services, supporting more than 47,000 jobs in industries ranging from lodging, to retail sales, to outfitting and guiding, and even to Uber drivers.5 Given the nature of Montana’s tourism, it is inherently entwined with the natural resources of the state and the ability to take part in outdoor recreation. As such, when more than a million acres burn during the state’s peak travel season, negative effects should be anticipated.

Respondents who visited the state during the concerned months were asked whether or not the presence of smoke affected their trip to Montana. They were given six different options from which they could choose multiple responses. Nearly a third (30%) indicated that there was no smoke where they visited, and thus had no effect on their travels. Nearly another third (31%) indicated the smoke was not bad enough in their travel area to have a substantially negative effect. For those visitors that did experience a negative effect, 7% indicated they had to change where they visited in Montana, while 10 percent were unable to take part in their desired activities at their desired locations. Thirty-four percent continued with their activities at their preferred locations, but were hampered by the smoke in some fashion. Only 7% indicated they shortened their stay in Montana due to the smoke or fires.

Most residents of Montana experienced decreased air quality during the 2017 fire season which affected their outdoor fitness regime, their ability to ‘play’ outside like usual, and for some, their willingness to travel. Montanans live for the outdoors according to a 2012 study. That study showed 88% of Montana residents 18 and over were active in outdoor recreation during the past year. In addition, 95% said outdoor recreation was important to their personal quality of life and 93% indicated it was also important for their family’s quality of life. The 2017 fire season dramatically affected their quality of life and their contribution to in-state spending which economically boosts other areas of the state than their home town.

The full report is available from the University of Montana.

Colorado Springs Gets Kids Outdoors

On Tuesday, the city of Colorado Springs announced that the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) board had awarded it a $1,393,955.50 grant for its Out the Door! Pikes Peak coalition. The grant is part of GOCO’s Inspire Initiative, which aims to connect families with the great outdoors. Out the Door! Pikes Peak is one of several coalitions in Colorado working to address specific community barriers keeping youth from getting outside.

Memorial Park Colorado Springs“Out the Door! Pikes Peak coalition has been developing plans for the past two years to serve residents in the Hillside neighborhood and help youth and their families enjoy the outdoors. This grant will help us put those plans into action.” said Tilah Larson, senior grants analyst for the City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. Out the Door! has identified the community’s primary barriers to getting outside as lack of time, gear and familiarity with outdoor spaces and programs, as well as transportation.

Approximately half of the GOCO Inspire funds will be used to make improvements to Prospect Lake Nature District at Memorial Park. The Prospect Lake Beach House will be renovated to serve as a launching area for outdoor activities and include an information center and gear library. At Fountain Park, a bike park will be built to include a paved skills course and bike demonstration area. Outdoor education will be integrated into School District 11 and the Prospect Lake Beach House and Hillside Community Center will serve as programming hubs. Out the Door! Pikes Peak plans to create 30 youth and community job opportunities and impact more than 3,800 youth through these improvements and programming plans.

The Out the Door! Pikes Peak coalition includes the City of Colorado Springs, School District 11, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Mile High Youth Corps, Kids on Bikes, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Catamount Institute, Fountain Creek Watershed District, North Cheyenne Canon and Garden of the Gods Interpretive Programming, UpaDowna, and YMCA/LiveWell Colorado Springs, along with several community-based partners.

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance Colorado’s parks, trails, open spaces, rivers and wildlife. The GOCO board announced a total investment of $20 million in 40 projects in 28 counties following its meeting on December 15. To date, GOCO has invested $51.6 million in El Paso County projects and conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Ute Valley Park, the Incline reconstruction and other projects. (Photo Credit: City of Colorado Springs)

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Video of the Week

Last May, twenty buyers and journalists joined the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to explore Tierra del Fuego. This week’s video tells the story and offers an idea of the various kinds of adventures one could have there. ATTA offers more information about Tierra del Fuego and connections to providers that will be happy to help you plan your adventure.

This newsletter is compiled by Jerry Haugen and brought to you by
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