Outdoor News March 23, 2018 - Explore! Outdoor News March 23, 2018 - Explore!

Outdoor News March 23, 2018

Meet Me at the Park

Meet Me in the Park LogoFor the fourth year, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is collaborating with The Walt Disney Company—including Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN.  Their project is the Meet Me at the Park Earth Month campaign.  It is designed to provide communities with resources to improve local parks through projects that connect kids with nature, promote healthy living and provide access to sports.

The general public can nominate a city or town anywhere across the U.S. to be entered for the chance to receive a $20,000 grant.  The grant will be used to support a local park within that community. The city with the most nominations during April 1–30, 2018 will receive the funding. This year, everyone who votes will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one GoPro Prize Pack.

For all the details and a toolkit to help you get lots of votes check out the NRPA website.

Interior Releases $1.1 billion for Wildlife

On Tuesday,  U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke traveled to Horicon, Wisconsin, where he announced more than $1.1 billion in annual national funding for state wildlife agencies from revenues generated by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration (PRDJ) acts. The Secretary presented a ceremonial check to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for $34,966,603 while visiting the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. State-by-state listings of the final Fiscal Year 2018 apportionments of Wildlife Restoration Program fund can be found here and the Sport Fish Restoration Program fund here. Allocations of the funds are authorized by Congress. To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $20.2 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects.

Horizon Marsh“American sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Secretary Zinke. “For nearly eighty years, states have been able to fund important conservation initiatives thanks to the more than $20 billion that has generated nationwide. Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation. The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works."

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages over 11,000 acres of the Horicon Marsh and almost every habitat project they complete includes PRDJ dollars, including prescribed burning, invasive species treatments, wetland berm maintenance, prairie seeding and restoration, timber stand improvement.

The funds, which are distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, support critical state conservation and outdoor recreation projects. They are derived from excise taxes paid by the hunting, shooting, boating and angling industries on firearms, bows and ammunition and sport fishing tackle, some boat engines, and small engine fuel.

Wisconsin boaters generate $1.18 billion of economic impact annually while hunting contributes to $2.5 billion in yearly economic impact. Angling creates over 21,000 jobs while impacting the economy to the tune of $2.3 billion each year.

“These funds are integral to our ability to provide hunting and fishing access, restore habitat and manage species at the state level,” said Daniel L. Meyer, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “We greatly value the partnership we have with the Service and the Department of Interior.”

Easter Egg Geocaching

The City of Allen, Texas, is offering its first annual Geocache Easter Egg Hunt at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, at Bethany Lakes Park in Allen. The activity is intended to introduce kids to the activity of geocaching and is just a part of the celebration. Coordinates will be provided for caches that include candy, gift certificates and various donations from local businesses. There will be one very special golden egg.  

Easter EggsFort Stevenson State Park in North Dakota is hosting a similar event.  In this case,  The Easter Egg Hunt Geocache is a multi-cache hide where participants find multiple geocaches that include clues to find the mystery geocache containing a Golden Easter Egg.  For details, see the park's Facebook event page.

The George Fisher Store in Keswick, Cumbria, England, has an Easter Garmin Geocache event.  This event runs from March 29 to April 15.  Participants stop by the store to get a story sheet and coordinates then set off.  They collect a word at each point, use the words to fill in the blanks on the story sheet then come back to the store to get their tasty Easter treat.  The store also loans GPS units to those that need them.  Get details on the store's website.

Events like this have been going on for several years.  They offer a great opportunity for families to get outside and experience geocaching.  For more about geocaching see our story on the topic.

Mayors Like Solar Energy

A bipartisan group of 180 U.S. mayors, representing cities large and small in 42 states, are speaking out in support of solar energy. In a letter released Tuesday by Environment America, the mayors resolve to make solar power a key element of their communities' energy plans and call on others to embrace clean energy from the sun.

Solar Panels"The transition to a clean energy future is one of the greatest opportunities of the 21st century for cities to improve community health, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and a vibrant and robust economy,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “More than 50 percent of the world's population now lives in cities, so we have to be the ones leading on important issues such as climate resiliency and sustainability.”

Cities such as Bozeman, Mont., that are known for their natural beauty and a high quality of life, are switching to solar energy to maintain their reputations.

“Bozeman recognizes that clean solar energy helps to preserve our outdoor recreation economy, quality of life, and community resiliency,” said Mayor Cyndy Andrus. “We are committed to expanding solar energy opportunities at the utility-scale and the local-level. We are streamlining our solar permitting processes, offering small grants to businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and working alongside our utility to advance community solar.”

In Encinitas, Calif., solar energy is helping the city achieve ambitious goals to help the climate.

“Supporting solar initiatives is a big part of reaching our Climate Action Plan goals,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear.  “We’re aiming to have 100% of our community’s electricity supplied by renewable sources by 2030. And over the next couple of years, we plan to install enough solar panels on our municipal buildings to become a Net Zero Energy city.”

Spending to Help Fire Fighting and Rec

The spending bill that cleared the House of Representatives yesterday and is expected to clear the Senate and gain the President's signature soon, has a fix for firefighting that can benefit recreation.  In the past, agencies like the Forest Service had enough money for fire fighting, but in recent years those funds evaporated quickly with the many large wildfires.  Unlike the response to other natural disasters which can draw from an emergency fund, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management must operate within their appropriated budgets or divert money from other important initiatives.  The reforms included in this legislation will allow these agencies to better plan for wildland fires and devote the resources necessary to combat them.  It will also allow them to carry out the projects that can prevent those fires in the first place and use other funding where it was originally intended.

Wildfire"Common sense has finally prevailed when it comes to how the Forest Service pays to fight record-breaking forest fires that devastate homes and communities in Oregon and the West," Senator Wyden of Oregon said. "For years, Sen. Crapo and I, along with a core group of bipartisan members in the House and hundreds of supporters across the country, fought to fix this problem that threatens western communities every year. This long-overdue, bipartisan solution to the madness of 'fire borrowing' will at last treat these infernos like the natural disasters they are, with the benefit that millions of dollars will now be liberated each year for essential wildfire prevention."

"This long-overdue provision will enable agencies to fight forest fires like the disasters they truly are and stop the debilitating practice of fire borrowing,” said Senator Crapo of Idaho.  “Unlike fighting other natural disasters, federal agencies like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management often find predictions for wildland firefighting costs far underestimate actual expenditures, necessitating diversions of funds from important tasks like habitat protection and trail maintenance.  We must help cash-strapped agencies from being forced to choose between saving lives and keeping our lands publicly-accessible.  In addition to my colleagues in the Senate, I thank my home state colleague, Mike Simpson, for his efforts and leadership in securing House support for this provision that will benefit Idaho and numerous states across the nation."

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Video of the Week

Spring arrived this week – according to the calendar.  If you are missing it where you live,  perhaps this week's video will brighten your day.  It's a six-and-a-half minute celebration of the arrival of the season.  Enjoy!

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