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State recreation panel meets in Spokane

OUTDOOR RECREATION — Gov. Jay Inslee’s new Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation will meet Tuesday in Spokane as part of a summer-long effort to develop a plan for encouraging outdoor recreation and boosting related jobs and businesses.

The session is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Room 205, Nursing Building, WSU Riverpoint Campus, 103 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

A public comment period at the meeting will start at 11:50 a.m., but the public is invited to submit ideas online throughout the summer.

Inslee said he's focusing attention on outdoor recreation because it directly supports 227,000 jobs in Washington and generates more than $22 billion in annual spending on things like equipment, lodging and apparel.

The 28-member task force, which has been meeting since April, plans to complete its work by September 19.

Subcommittees will be reporting on four topics: meeting future recreational needs, getting more people outdoors, economic development and the state’s role in providing outdoor recreation.

Take the Poll about Funding Recreation

Visit Engage Outdoor Washington at www.engageoutdoorwashington.com.

The task force is asking new questions each week about different recreation issues. Last week, the task force asked who participates less frequently in outdoor recreation in Washington and why?

A poll about funding for parks is asking:

The task force includes 16 voting members who are citizens involved in outdoor recreation and recreation-related businesses, 8 state agency representatives and 4 legislators.

Outdoor industry applauds Inslee’s initiative

OUTDOOR RECREATION — The Outdoor Industry Association has high praise for Gov. Jay Inslee's recent executive order creating a blue-ribbon task force to support outdoor recreation in Washington state.  

Inslee’s task force demonstrates the state’s commitment to supporting and expanding the outdoor recreation and tourism industries, says the group based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C.

Inslee announced this new effort last week with the Big Tent Outdoor Coalition, which includes Kent-based REI and other organizations representing the outdoor recreation community.

“Outdoor recreation is an untapped economic opportunity that can benefit every state in the nation,” said Kirk Bailey, Vice President of Government Affairs for OIA. "This task force will develop recommendations to strengthen and grow outdoor recreation and tourism, as well as examine opportunities in funding sources for recreation lands. OIA will be excited to see their report due out in the fall of 2014.”

The nation’s network of public lands and waters are the foundation of the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry, the group says, noting that in Washington, outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion in spending, 227,000 jobs and produces $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Survive spring break: 10 tips for outbound college students

WATER SPORTS — With 3.7 million college students getting ready for a well-earned spring break, history tells us some of them will get hurt or killed, especially around water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offer these Top 10 tips to help you avoid being a statistic on a lake, stream or ocean.

No. 10: HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Position) can save your life in cold water. This position is where your knees are drawn up to your chest with your arms grasping them together helping retain body temperature until you are rescued. Wet clothing will not weigh you down in the water because water does not weigh more than water, so leave your clothes on.
No. 9: Diving could be a neck-breaking experience; never dive into unknown waters.
No. 8: Any beach that has breaking waves could have the potential to develop rip currents near the shore that can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea.If you get caught in one of these narrow rip currents, swim parallel to shore until the current stops pushing you out.
No. 7: Never overestimate your swimming abilities, especially in open waters.
No 6: Swim only in designated areas.
No. 5: Never swim alone.
No. 4: Swim and boat sober.
No. 3: If you are boating, wear a life jacket even if you know how to swim and don’t expect to enter the water.
No. 2: Choose the right life jacket for you and wear it. The new inflatable life jackets are lightweight and the belt-pack style of inflatable life jacket will still allow you to get a great tan.
The No. 1: tip that could mean the difference between life and death during your spring break: Don’t let anyone talk you into anything that you don’t want to do. Peer pressure can kill you.

Washington outdoor recreation plan needs public input

OUTDOOR REC — If you enjoy the outdoors, you owe it to yourselff to participate in the online Washington State Outdoor Recreation Survey.

So far, about 800 comments have been filed on the easy to navigate Town Hall website

In addition to the survey, which can help channel planning and funding in the future, the site is asking the publicv to post their stories and photos showing how outdoor recreation impacts you and your family.  The information will be used in the final report.

  • In the last statewide survey conducted in in 2005-2006, WALKING was rated the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Washington.

The state’s outdoor recreation strategic plan, called the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), needs to be updated every 5 years to maintain the state's ability to receive federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The funding is used for grants to local communities to build parks and trails, and conserve wildlife habitat.

The problem with street hockey

Eventually some of the kids acquire the ability to lift the puck. And as most of the players are not wearing shin pads, this leads to some wicked bruises and much colorful language.


Conservation lands generate billions of $ for national economy, study finds

CONSERVATION — The myth that "conservation lands" are locked up and useless to the public is debunked in dollars and sense by a new economic study  that documents how conservation, recreation and preservation lands support 9.4 million jobs and generate $1 trillion a year to the U.S. economy.

The study was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Let's hope that rational minds pore over details of these findings before succumbing to North Dakota's knee-jerk reaction to legislatively prohibit any "net gain" of protected lands.

This information needs to be considered by Congressmen attempting to water down laws protecting roadless and wilderness portions of public lands.

Read on for more details and comments from former public lands officials, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and others.

Rack ‘em up

One thing some visitors to Spokane notice at this time of year is the seemingly high percentage of cars adorned with racks designed to carry bikes, boats and what have you.

This isn't the only place a person would see that, of course. But it's worth noting that Spokane isn't some self-impressed ski resort/rock-climbing mecca. It's a real city. Our chief industries are not hot-tubbing and woo-hooing.

And yet, a fair number of people here still find time to enjoy outdoor recreation. That's got to be a good thing, right?

Sure. Let's count the ways.

1. Activity and exercise make people feel good, physically and mentally.

2. Being outside helps you get enough Vitamin D.

3. People riding bikes leads to wildly entertaining letters to the editor from the "Get off my lawn!" crowd.

Recreation top use on Idaho BLM land, study finds

PUBLIC LANDS – A new study shows recreation and the industry that supports outdoors activities is outpacing traditional uses such as grazing and mining on land managed by the Bureau of Land management in Idaho.

The results are from a study on the U.S. Department of Interior’s economic effects in Idaho. The state has ample public land, including nearly 12 million acres managed by BLM.

The report finds that recreation accounts for six times more jobs than grazing and timber industries, and three times more than energy and minerals.

BLM Deputy State Director Jeff Foss says ranchers still drive many rural economies. But he says from a statewide perspective recreation is tops.

The Idaho Statesman reports the BLM spends about $81 million annually to manage grazing and timber land, compared to $68 million on recreation management.

EWU outdoor classes focus on leadership, survival

OUTDOOR SKILLS– Whether you’re a church group leader or a solo adventurer, you can benefit from short summer outdoor courses in skills such as rafting and kayaking offered by Eastern Washington University.

Veteran outdoor recreation professor Paul Green is offering two special courses:

Outdoor Leadership, July 30-31:  Covers trip planning, leadership techniques, judgment and decision-making. Students practice skills, such as GPS and searching for missing members during a field trip.

Legal aspects of outdoor leadership also are covered. "The session on 'How to prevent a lawsuit' and the outdoor leader’s four main defenses to a lawsuit are very important elements of this class," Green said.

Primitive Survival, Aug. 6-7:  Classroom and in-field instruction in practical survival techniques for navigation, shelters, fires and much more.

“A lot of survival is making the right decisions and holding it together,” Green said. “We work on that as much as the skills, like making a water filter from sand and make a fire with a knife and a rock, not a flint, a rock.”

Register by July 6: Call EWU Summer Session, 359-4222  or register online.

Seasonal imperative disorder

Heard some people talking about the weather Sunday. It was clear they were in the grips of a feverish desire to be outside 100 percent of the time the sun is shining between now and autumn.

I understand. We all know it has been a cloudy, wet spring. Pent-up sun lust is a fairly common condition. 

But with the official start of summer about a week away, I am willing to offer a personal guarantee.

There are lots of sunny days coming. Try to relax. This isn't Seattle.

Census Bureau to collect wildlife recreation information

WILDLIFE — On April 1, U.S. Census Bureau employees will begin the first wave of data collection for the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation from about 53,000 households across the country.

Conducted every five years by the Census Bureau, the survey is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is the source of statistics we often read about wildlife recreation trends and numbers of hunters, anglers and birdwatchers in the United States.

"Participation in this survey is important because the results help us better manage our natural resources and to understand the demands being put on our wildlife and their habitat," said Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau. "This is one of the many surveys conducted by the Census Bureau for other federal agencies."

The latest data from the survey show that in 2006, more than 87 million Americans 16 and older enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent $122 billion in pursuit of these activities.

Read on for more details.