Outdoor News October 20, 2017 - Explore! Outdoor News October 20, 2017 - Explore!

Outdoor News October 20, 2017

Dealing with Forest Fires

 By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service – Nevada 
Megafires such as the Carpenter 1 fire on Mount Charleston that blanketed Las Vegas in smoke four years ago will be more common in the future – according to a new report

WildfireResearchers from the National Wildlife Federation found that wildfires have burned 8.5 million acres nationwide so far this year and are on track to cost the federal government about $2.5 billion to fight. Judythe Ann Minale, a risk manager for Capstone Insurance, said too many people are living in areas with high fire danger – exacerbated by last winter’s rains, which produced extra vegetation that now has dried out and will be quick to burn. 

“A lot of homes or businesses in high-risk areas are going to have a difficult time getting insurance, and [will] pay a lot for that insurance,” Minale said.

Minale said people shouldn’t tune out warnings that the hotter, drier conditions linked to climate change are making these so-called 100-year catastrophic fire events more common. According to the Great Basin Coordination Center, almost 1.2 million acres have burned throughout Nevada in 2017 as a result of 658 wildfires.

Shannon Heyck-Williams, climate and energy policy adviser for the National Wildlife Federation, said Congress needs to create a special fund to fight megafires, instead of making the Forest Service contend with catastrophes on its regular budget. “Agencies like FEMA can get disaster funding help when it comes to things like hurricanes and tornadoes, massive flooding. But the Forest Service can’t do that when it comes to fighting mega fires,” Heyck-Williams said. “It only makes sense that we get them that access to that money, because megafires truly are catastrophic events just like these other disasters.”

The report also found that fires in Northern Nevada have led to an invasion of non-native cheatgrass – eliminating habitat important to animals such as the sage grouse, the short-horned lizard, the pygmy rabbit and the Brewer’s sparrow.  Researchers also found forest managers have suppressed too many small fires over the past few decades, blazes that would have cleared out much of the extra brush and fallen logs that have built up.

Ranking State Policies

The Center for Western Priorities’ Western States Conservation Scorecard ranks state policies on public lands access, outdoor recreation, and energy development in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.  The goal of the scorecard is to identify best practices and gaps in state-level public lands-related policy in the West in an effort to highlight where Western states are demonstrating leadership and where they can improve.

The Center established some criteria and points for each policy area.  The following is what they came up with for outdoor recreation:


  • 3 pts total: Has an office
  • 2 pts total: Has a task force
  • 1 pt total: Proactive efforts underway

Independence Pass, Colorado by John PriceOUTDOOR INFRASTRUCTURE

  • 1 pt: Offers permanent funding for outdoor infrastructure
  • 1 pt: Offers impermanent funding for outdoor infrastructure


  • 2 pts: Offers permanent funding for outdoor education (1 pt for impermanent funding)
  • 1 pt: Statewide standards for outdoor/environmental education
  • 1 pt: Every Kid in a Park program

On that basis they ranked the states from best to worst:

  1. Colorado (7 Points)
  2. Utah (5 points)
  3. Montana (4 points)
  4. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming (1 point each)

So, how did Arizona rate so poorly when it just received an award for the best managed State Parks in the country?  Well . . .

  • it doesn’t have an office of outdoor recreation,
  • it doesn’t have an ‘every kid in the parks’ program or state-wide standards for environmental education or funding for outdoor education
  • funding for state park and other infrastructure improvements provided by the Arizona Heritage Fund was eliminated in 2010

Clearly access to public lands and the effects of energy development on the quality of outdoor experiences also relate to outdoor recreation.  In the case of access to public lands, Montana came out on top.  Colorado came out on top for responsible energy development.  Here are the overall rankings:

  1. Colorado (18 points)
  2. Montana (14.5 points)
  3. Utah (13 points)
  4. Wyoming (12 points)
  5. New Mexico (11.5 points)
  6. Nevada (11 points)
  7. Arizona (8.5 points)
  8. Idaho (8 points)

This is not a scientific approach to ranking the states.   While the Center does have a rationale and some background to support their criteria and the states can be objectively scored on that basis, there are some problems.  

The most obvious is the selection of the criteria that were used.  Since the Center is already aware of what is going on in the states,  it essentially knew what the results would be given the criteria they chose.  If you prefer other criteria, you could easily re-rank the states to your own liking.  

Second,  the number values suggest a value associated with each criteria.  For example Colorado gets two points for having both permanent and impermanent sources for infrastructure funding.  Another state that may have ten times the total funding available on a permanent basis would only get one point.  Apparently the Center believes it is more critical to have both types of funding sources that actually putting more money into the pot for this type of work. 

Bottom line,  it’s an interesting analysis and the Center gave it some thought, but it’s not particularly useful unless you want to press your state along the lines the Center suggests.

Get all the details in the full report. Western States Conservation Scorecard: An analysis of lands and energy policy across the West 

An Education in Adventure Tourism

According to Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources:

To help better prepare people to work in the industry, and improve the skills of those already employed, Colorado State University has launched an Online Graduate Certificate in Adventure Tourism.

Colorado State UniversityThe new certificate program, a first of its kind in the nation, will provide students and budding entrepreneurs with the skills required to successfully develop and manage land-, water-, and air-based adventures. It combines information gleaned from industry leaders and natural resource tourism management theory with an emphasis on the practice of managing an adventure tourism enterprise.

“This course provides a unique opportunity for individuals to live their passion, while making a lasting positive difference in the world by transforming lives, increasing cultural awareness, and expanding worldviews,” said Mark Gasta, associate professor of tourism and director of the Adventure Tourism program in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. Gasta is the former executive vice president of Vail Resorts.

“The outdoor recreation industry represents a new economy,” according to Luis Benitez, director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “The leaders of this economy will need to have a deep understanding of our natural resources, and how to integrate the components of innovation, health and wellness into a vision for what comes next.”

The certificate program will accept students in spring 2018. The flexible online format will allow students from around the world to complete the coursework – six classes – at their own pace. Courses will include narrated presentations, discussion groups, and a range of multi-media content, including video interviews and discussions with industry experts.

The Online Graduate Certificate in Adventure Tourism is one of a number of programs developed by CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources to serve the needs of students and professionals in the natural resource tourism and outdoor recreation industries. These programs include the Master of Tourism Management program (available on-campus and online) and an online Graduate Certificate in Ski Area Management.


Buffalo Harbor State Park Complete

Buffalo Harbor State Park
On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the transformation of the new Buffalo Harbor State Park, the City of Buffalo’s first state park, is now complete. New York State purchased the once neglected property in 2013 and immediately invested $15 million across 3 phases to remediate the brownfield and transform all 190 acres into a vibrant state park. Today, more than 240,000 people visit the park annually.

“The transformation of the Outer Harbor into this newly revitalized and family-friendly destination bring new excitement and new energy to the region, while also continuing downtown Buffalo’s economic momentum,” said Governor Cuomo. “Buffalo Harbor State Park is providing expanded outdoor recreation and access to the waterfront for the local community, welcoming visitors to come experience all that Western New York has to offer.”

“The rebirth of Buffalo’s waterfront is a hallmark of the city’s recovery and a symbol of our commitment to making this region a premier tourism destination,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Outer Harbor State Park restores one of our most important recreational and environmental assets and underscores Governor Cuomo’s dedication to Western New York’s continued revitalization. “

The transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park now offers the community a host of new recreational opportunities and unprecedented access that include:

  • Buffalo Harbor State ParkRehabilitated Breakwall: Now stabilized the breakwall provides new recreational access with paved walking and bike paths, shaded seating areas with accent lighting and the introduction of a fishing platform.
  • Rehabilitated Southern Revetment: Like the Rehabilitated Breakwall, the southern revetment is stabilized and now features a fishing platform.
  • Enhanced Greenspace: Features a fresh new great-lawn with beautiful vistas of Lake Erie and the Harbor, open air picnic pavilions, nautically themed destination playground (artist rendering below), sled-riding hill, stage area for live music and movies in the park, new park furnishings including benches, improved lighting and walkways, landscaping and general utility upgrades.
  • New Public Boat Launches: The Marina now includes an 8 lane boat launch. Its new location on the southwest side enables day boaters access to Lake Erie without having to maneuver through the state’s largest boat marina, as has been required in the past. Such action also provides marina slip owners with calmer water as less traffic now passes by them. 
  • Redesigned Parking and Boating Queue Lines: Sandwiched between the marina and the parks’ greenspace are two specially marked parking areas. The main parking area can accommodate 228 boat trailers and is located in close proximity to the new public launch. This lot can also be easily converted to 372 parking spaces for special event needs.

Buffalo Harbor PlaygroundDesignated queuing lines have also been created to ensure day boaters can access the public boat launch with ease. All combined, the revised traffic flow, reconfigured parking lots, and the new public launch will reduce the amount of time between unloading and parking which will allow boaters more time to enjoy the water.

The second parking lot, adjacent to the play area and greenspace, features 134 parking spaces and is for park patrons only.  

  • Rehabilitated Marina: Marina concessionaire, Safe Harbor Development, has invested an additional $8 million into the boat marina that includes new and additional slips, enhanced lighting and controlled access and security all designed to provide slip owners the ability to better support their needs on the docks.
  • New Multi-Use Trail: Constructed parallel to the boating queue line, the new multi-use trail will provide connectivity between the rehabilitated breakwall, the remaining multi-use trail system in the park, and the new Empire State Trail for which Buffalo Harbor State Park serves as the western terminus.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Buffalo Harbor State Park is a key component of the waterfront’s transformation and as we celebrate the completion of Phase III, it is clear that every improvement made at the water’s edge is a smart investment in Buffalo’s economic future.”


Central Coast Heritage Protection Act

On Monday, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Salud CarbajalCentral Coast Heritage Protection Act, which would designate nearly 250,000 acres of public land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as wilderness.  The legislation also establishes a 400-mile long Condor National Recreation trail, stretching from Los Angeles to Monterey County.

Representatives Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), who also represent portions of the Los Padres National Forest, co-sponsored this legislation in the House.

“As our federal public lands and national monuments come under increased threat of oil and gas drilling, it is now more important than ever to act to permanently protect our open spaces,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The Central Coast is home to some of the most diverse ecosystems in North America and these public lands provide invaluable local water supplies and recreational outdoor activities to our communities. We have a responsibility to protect these special places for future generations and that’s why I’m proud to introduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.”

Kamala Harris“Americans of all walks of life deserve access to our public lands, and we have a duty to protect them,” Sen. Harris said. “Expanding wilderness protections in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument is about recognizing the economic, recreational, and environmental value of these lands to the Central Coast and to our country. As this Administration continues to prioritize opening public lands to drilling, mining, and logging, I’m proud to introduce legislation that would ensure Americans are able experience the true beauty of our nation for generations to come.”

The bill will designate four new wilderness areas in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and expands nine existing wilderness areas in Los Padres National Forest. It protects Condor Ridge and Black Mountain as new scenic areas, and designates the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail within the Los Padres National Forest.


Special Savings for Our Readers

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Video of the Week

The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, mentioned above, includes some additions to the Chumash Wilderness area on the Los Padres National Forest.  This week’s video features Pete and Lauren as they backpack around the Wilderness.  Enjoy!


This newsletter is compiled by Jerry Haugen and brought to you by
Global Creations EXPLORE!  The eMagazine for Adventure and Exploration

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