Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Outdoor Recreation = Big Business in WA


Big Tent Outdoor Coalition points to new report showing outdoor recreation as big business in Washington—worth $22.5 billion

The Big Tent Outdoor Coalition, an alliance of more than two-dozen organizations including The Mountaineers, is pointing to a new study that shows outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in Washington State and across the country.

The Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) recently released a report that provides both national and state-by-state figures – and its data show that Washington State has the sixth-highest number of outdoor recreation sector jobs in the nation. Over 63% of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation activities each year.
The overall data for Washington State is stunning. $22.5 billion is spent each year on outdoor recreation here, directly supporting 226,600 jobs and generating $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.  Direct jobs include the design and development of outdoor gear and apparel; wholesaling and retailing those products; providing lodging and transportation services; serving as guides and outfitters; and more.

“Here in Washington, we’ve always believed that outdoor recreation opportunities and quality of life are inseparable from the economy,” said Kaleen Cottingham, Director, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. “Finally, we have current data that demonstrates that these activities are not only an important part of our culture—they’re big business for the state and our local communities.” 

This is the first comprehensive update of the economic impact of outdoor recreation since the OIA released figures in 2006 and the new data show significant increases in consumer spending and jobs.  It is important to note that this report does not include equestrian, sailing and diving activities—popular pursuits in Washington that likely push these numbers even higher. 

“Protecting our natural areas and our legacy of outdoor recreation is the right thing to do – and it’s pretty clear from this data that it’s the economic thing to do as well,” said Martinique Grigg, Executive Director of The Mountaineers.

Peter Schrappen, Government Affairs Director for the Northwest Marine Trade Association, points out that Washington State’s history of investing in public access to the outdoors has helped build a thriving recreation industry.  “Outdoors businesses are successful in Washington because our state has had the foresight to ensure access to public lands, waterways and trails.  Those investments are not just smart from a quality of life standpoint but smart from a dollars and sense standpoint,” he said.

The Big Tent Coalition believes the OIA data bolsters and reinforces the need for Washington lawmakers to protect dedicated capital accounts for outdoor recreation activities, to provide general fund assistance for State Parks, and to support significant funding for programs such as Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

The national report as well as a one page fact sheet for each U.S. state is available on the OIA website at


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mountaineer Nominated as Secretary of the Interior

By Sarah Krueger, Public Lands Programs Manager

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza 
On February 7, President Obama nominated one of our very own as the next Secretary of the Interior. Sally Jewell, chief executive at REI, is named to lead the department that oversees the stewardship of hundreds of millions of acres of public lands.  The Mountaineers is proud to support Sally Jewell’s nomination. Sally, who learned to climb with The Mountaineers as a teenager, is a Peak Society member and serves on our Advisory Council.   “As an active hiker, paddler and climber, Sally is well-versed in the value of outdoor recreation and the importance of our public lands,” remarked Martinique Grigg, Mountaineers Executive Director, “we are proud of Sally’s rise to this important post and look forward to working with her to protect public lands and encourage more Americans – young and old - to get outdoors.” 
The Mountaineers would like to thank outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for his important contributions to recreation and conservation initiatives on our public lands in particular his work on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Outdoor Recreation in Olympia: An Overview of Legislation

By Robert Dengel, Outdoor Advocate Volunteer

The 2013 Legislative Session is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing sessions in recent years. The Legislature starts the session having to address a $2-2.5 billion shortfall due to a budget gap and a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision (McCleary v. State) which held that the Legislature was not adequately meeting their paramount duty to fund K-12 Education. To make matters more interesting two Democrats, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, have joined Senate Republicans to form a majority “coalition” that looks to address budget issues without any new revenue. Needless to say those interested in promoting and protecting the great outdoors will have their work their work cut out for them during this session.
"Big Tent Outdoor Recreation Coalition" Legislative Day
Photo by Jim Thode
There are a number of bills that affect outdoor recreation; from the Discover Pass to land acquisitions.

State Parks Funding (also see Discover Pass)
State Parks is currently facing significant budget cuts, in part due to the Discover Pass generating less revenue than expected. State Parks is requesting $27 million from the general fund operating budget to help offset any significant new cuts. State Parks has already reduced its full time staff by a third as result of budget cuts from previous sessions. Any additional cuts will make it even harder to safely keep open parks, which we all enjoy.

SB 5575: Transfers funds from the litter tax over to State Parks. Amends the function of State Parks renewal and stewardship account and the outdoor recreation account for the maintenance and operation of existing facilities.

Discover Pass
In its second year of existence the Legislature has a number of bills that would tweak the Discover Pass. Most of the bills are focused on exemptions.

SB 5080: Allows individuals with a Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) vehicle pass to gain access to lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources where a Discover Pass is required.

SB 5084: Allows disabled veterans the ability to purchase a Discover Pass for $5 instead of $30. The bill also eliminates the temporary parking spots where a Discover Pass is not required.

SB 5097: Allows a married couple to pool their volunteer hours (24 hours are required) to obtain a complimentary Discover Pass.

SB 5266: Allows a person to purchase a Discover Pass through their vehicle renewals.

SB 5289: Allows a Discover Pass holder to display their pass in any prominent location on the vehicle, instead of just their windshield. Exempts those driving on non-gated forest roads managed by the state from needing a Discover Pass. Allows DFW vehicle pass holders to purchase a Discover Pass for $5.

SB 5319: Provides disabled veterans a free Discover Pass.

SB 5391/HB1755: Exempts vehicles with an ORV permit from needing a Discover Pass.

SB 5653/ HB 1530: State Parks would be allowed to request general funds to offset any loss of revenue from Discover Pass reductions and exemptions, based on a report delivered to the legislature. Would also create a greater effort to find and recognize donors towards to State Parks.

SB 5657: Provides a free Discover Pass for individuals with an identified need (e.g. veterans, food stamp recipients), as well as helps ensure access to parks by youth from low income families. Revenue from the Discover Pass, camp and reservation fees would be matched with revenue from the general fund. Also allows a married couple to pool their volunteer hours (see also SB 5097).

Off-Road Vehicles
SB 5513/ HB 1632: Creates a new vehicle tags for wheeled all terrain vehicles (certain types of 4x4s). Funds from the new tags goes into account to pay for ORV education and enforcement programs. . ORVs are allowed to operate on rural roads so long as the vehicle meets a number of safety requirements and drive no faster than 35 mph. The bill also requires that ORV riders under the age 16 years must be supervised by an adult who is within 300 feet at all times.

Land Acquisitions
HB 1704: Requires State Parks to provide written notice to ports and other local jurisdictions 60 days before acquiring land, developing a park, or closing a park, and respond to any requests from those jurisdictions.

SB 5054: Requires legislative approval for State Parks, DFW or DNR to acquire any lands. Such approval would be based in part on a plan submitted by the relevant agency on how they will maintain and operate the land purchased by the acquisition. This bill has passed its first committee.

SB 5057: Prohibits certain private, not-for-profit organizations acquiring real property through state funds (including grants and transfers) from prohibiting or restricting public access for hunting, fishing, trapping, or other outdoor recreation on that property. This bill has passed its first committee.

Capital Budget: The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant allows provides funding to state and local agencies to funds parks, trails and water access projects. The current recommended level is $90 million, an increase over the prior biennium.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Support funding for the Northwest’s Great Outdoors

By Kelly Huang, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition

Calling on outdoor enthusiasts! Washington State’s largest funding source for safeguarding parks, trails, and water access– the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP) – needs your help!
The WWRP is the largest grant program funded from the capital construction budget that awards grants for conservation and recreation projects across the state. Every year trails, parks, and water access projects receive millions in WWRP grant dollars to create and maintain high quality hiking, skiing, kayaking, and climbing opportunities.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. Our members consist of a diverse group of over 250 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests.
The Coalition promotes and advocates for state and federal funding for parks, wildlife habitat and working lands across Washington State, including the WWRP.
Pinnacle Peak Park is a forested volcanic cone rising 1,000 feet above the Enumclaw Plateau. With your help, access to the park would provide us sweeping vistas of Mount Rainier and the White River Valley.   Credit King County Parks
However, the state’s budget for the WWRP is limited. This year, projects like the PinnaclePeak Trailhead Development are at risk under the current budget level. Securing the WWRP will help improve access to the heavily visited Pinnacle Peak Park.
WWRP could also make the following projects possible:
*East Tiger Mountain Trail System, King County
If you want to support these projects, we need you to express your support for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) to Governor Inslee and your legislators in the 2013-2015 biannual capital budget.

Click here to learn more and take action.

UPDATED: Olympic National Park Launches Planning Process for Existing Park Wilderness

Press release from Olympic National Park Service

Avalanche lilies- NPS
Olympic National Park invites the public to participate in developing a Wilderness Stewardship Plan to help protect and manage the designated wilderness lands within the park.

"The Olympic Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1988 and has become one of the most popular wilderness destinations in the country," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "We are excited to be moving ahead with a comprehensive plan for how we protect and manage this area and are looking forward to hearing thoughts and ideas from our public."

The plan will be developed in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964 and analyzed through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. In the coming weeks, a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS will be published in the Federal Register. The public comment period begins today and will continue for 60 days after the Federal Register notice is published.

"One of the first steps in any planning process is to learn what the public's thoughts, questions and concerns are," said Creachbaum. "We welcome online and written comments and have also scheduled eight public workshops for people to share their thoughts and learn more about the plan."

More information about the Olympic Wilderness Stewardship Plan and planning process, including a public scoping newsletter, is available online at Comments may also be submitted at that website.

Public workshops will be offered around the Olympic Peninsula and are scheduled as follows.

February 19, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Sekiu Community Center, 42 Rice, Sekiu, WA 98381

February 20, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Department of Natural Resources Conference Room, 411 Tillicum Lane, Forks, WA 98331

February 21, 2013, 4:00-6:00pm
Amanda Park Library, 6118 U.S. Highway 101, Amanda Park, WA 98526

March 4, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Seattle REI Flagship Store, 222 Yale Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109

March 5, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Ridgetop High School, 10600 Hillsboro Drive NW, Silverdale, WA 98383

March 6, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Shelton Civic Center, 525 W. Cota Street, Shelton, WA 98584

**NEW** March 7, 2013, 5:00-7:00pm
Capital Plaza Hotel, 900 Capital Way South, Olympia, WA 98501

**NEW** March 26, 2013, 4:30-6:30
Aberdeen Timberland Library, 121 East Market Street, Aberdeen, WA  98520

Public comments may also be mailed or delivered to:
Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue Port Angeles, WA 98362

Ninety-five percent of Olympic National Park was designated as wilderness in 1988, and is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and established a policy for the protection of wilderness resources for public use and enjoyment.

For more information or to be added to the Olympic National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan, people should visit or call the park at 360-565-3004. --NPS--