Outdoor Recreation

Aaron Linsdau

Have you ever wanted to pack up your bag, leave everyday life behind, and follow in the footsteps of famous polar explorers? Well, author and explorer Aaron Linsdau does just that — trekking solo to remote locations like Alaska, Greenland, and Antarctica. He has also translated his experiences into a career as a motivational speaker and will be speaking at the Wyoming Writers Conference in Dubois in June. Linsdau told Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard he first started thinking about becoming an explorer when he picked up backpacking in California.

When you hear about companies like REI or Patagonia, you might think about tents, rain jackets or hikers in puffy coats on a mountaintop. But how about politics? These outdoorsy companies are part of a new wave of business advocates fighting for public lands.


Bridger Teton National Forest

For the third year in a row, students from seven schools on the Wind River Reservation traveled to the Bridger-Teton National Forest to learn outdoor education. But this year fifth graders got some added instruction from tribal elders.

Tourists crowd downtown Jackson last summer.
Bob Beck


The University of Wyoming will be launching an Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management degree this fall. It’s been a three-year effort, but those in the industry have wanted the degree for almost 20 years.

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

A landslide in a popular area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming's western mountains has locals worried about the region's economy.

CC0 Public Domain

An eleven-year-old male grizzly was the first bear sighting of 2018 in Yellowstone National Park. The male was seen in the east-central region of the park.

Airman 1st Class Alexis Visser, 90th Munitions Squadron, and Senior Airman Rachel Silverberg, 90th Force Support Squadron, hike the Hidden Falls trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., July 3, 2015.
Credit U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim

The federal government conducted its first economic analysis on outdoor recreation. It has a bigger impact on the country’s GDP than previously thought.

The new study by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that outdoor recreation accounted for two percent of the entire U.S. economy in 2016. 

Laramie Range where it borders Medicine Bow National Forest
Robert Kirkwood

Five minutes from downtown Laramie, Melanie Arnett unlocks a gate. She pulls a truck through and we’re inside the 5,500-acre parcel of land that Laramie folks have been drooling to explore for years. I’m feeling pretty smug about my VIP pass.

“Right now, we’re looking right at Pilot Peak,” says Melanie Arnett, who was recently hired to serve as the Pilot Hill Land Project’s director. A local businessman, John Pope with Blue Sky Group, volunteered to pay her salary for now.

Credit By Paul Rau and the Bureau of Land Management via CC BY 2.0

About 20 years ago, Wyoming acquired a ranch north of Cody that had briefly been the home of a wanted drug smuggler. Now, there’s debate in Park County about what to do with the property.

The Park County Sheriff and another local complained to the County Commissioners that the Beartooth Ranch near the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River is an eyesore, full of decrepit buildings and weeds. So, the commissioners decided to write a letter to Governor Matt Mead requesting the right to sell the property.

Jackson Hole's annual SHIFT Festival brings together the outdoor recreation industry and conservationists. This year, the festival is focusing on making the case for how conservation can be good for business. Gov. Matt Mead's Policy Advisor Nephi Cole attended SHIFT to release a new report that he says will guide the state in how to enhance outdoor recreation in Wyoming.

Petr Kratochvil / freestockphotos.biz

A program in Jackson is expanding to offer 17 scholarships to female skiers and outdoorswomen who want to improve their skills on the mountain. The Jackson Hole Babe Force scholarships will allow women to participate in American Avalanche Institute courses, the Elevate 1 Women’s Ski Camp in Jackson, and Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls in Oregon.

Center for Western Priorities' Scorecard
Center for Western Priorities

The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.

Wikipedia Commons Tony Webster

Albany County Commissioners will soon decide whether to purchase over 5,000 acres of land just east of Laramie in order to create more public land for recreation while simultaneously protecting the city’s water supply. 

The proposed land purchase from the four private landowners would cost $14 million dollars, and would essentially create a corridor where residents and visitors could bike or hike from Laramie city limits all the way up to Happy Jack Recreational area.

http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16970

Tick-borne illnesses can be dangerous. That’s why it is a good idea to watch out for ticks when you are outside this summer.  

Ticks in Wyoming do not carry Lyme disease as they do in eastern states, but they can spread Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Colorado Tick Fever. Katie Brian, an epidemiologist for the state health department, recommends seeing a doctor if you’re having abnormal fatigue, headaches, fever, nausea, or rashes after a tick bite. Brian said her office hasn’t heard of any cases so far this year, but she expects to as the summer continues.  

Yellowstone Recreations Foundation

Kids in the Cody area will soon have more recreational opportunities thanks to $250,000 grant from the Daniels Fund. The grant was written by the Yellowstone Recreations Foundation in collaboration with various community organizations. Amy Woods, the Foundation Manager and Grant Writer for the Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, said the grant was written with a focus on winter recreation.

“Seeing as how we are in winter 12 months out of the year, it seems, that’s a huge area where youth programs can thrive, and we just need the funding to do it,” Woods said.

Ryan Britt

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced last week that national parks added about $35 billion to the economy in 2016. But some industry analysts are seeing signs that new travel bans and immigration policies may impact that growth in 2017. 

Tourism is the second largest industry in Wyoming with visitors spending $3.2 billion and supporting almost 32,000 jobs in 2016. And Zinke announced record breaking revenues of nearly $40 billion thanks to National Park visitation nationwide.

PEDIGREE Stage Stop Race

The PEDIGREE Stage Stop Race, a dog sledding race, begins January 27 in Jackson. The competition lasts eight days and travels through four national forests and eight communities, including Jackson, Driggs, ID, Alpine, Pinedale, Lander, Big Piney, Kemmerer, and Uinta County. The race will end back in Jackson on February 4.

Fourteen teams of mushers and dogs will be competing for a 1st prize of $10,000.

The Eukanuba Eight Dog Classic is a three day race that will begin at the same time as the Pedigree Stage Stop Race and will have ten teams competing.

Northwest College Outdoor Program

This month, the Obama administration signed into law an act that will require the government to treat outdoor recreation like it does other industries such as health care or energy. The Recreation’s Economic Contribution Act will require agencies to collect data about outdoor manufacturing, services and nonprofits and include those figures as a factor in the Gross Domestic Product.

Mike Hepler, NOLS PR & marketing intern

Outdoor recreation is one of the top three money making industries in Wyoming, and a new organization hopes to help grow that potential even further. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Flitner Strategies in Jackson have recently partnered to form the Wyoming Outdoor Business Association. 

Flitner Strategies President Sara Flitner said one thing most Wyomingites agree on is their love for Wyoming’s great outdoors.

Pixabay

A new economic study could help the State Board of Land Commissioners decide on a proposed exchange that could affect as many as 8,000 acres of public lands in Albany County.

Under the Bonander Ranches Exchange, the state would swap 1,000 acres of state trust land in the Laramie Range to a private landowner for less than 300 acres in Crook County. These areas are valued at the same amount, and the smaller parcel could bring revenue to the state in the form of leases and timber sales. 

JAY JOHNSON / ADVENTUREJAY

The public comment period is open on a draft report, which discusses improvements to cycling and pedestrian paths throughout Wyoming.

The Wyoming Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force, was appointed by Governor Matt Mead earlier this year, and will rely the public’s input as a guide for the final draft of the report.

Tim Young, the chairman for the task force, said the goal is to hear Wyomingites’ opinions on the different types of trails and paths they would like to see.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails

For the third straight year, the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails division reported record-breaking numbers. Visitors to recreation sites increased 8 percent, and revenue increased 10 percent.

State Parks Administrator Domenic Bravo sys because of customer feedback, the agency was able to implement a lot of the amenities people had been asking for, like RV hook-ups, yurts and camping cabins.

Melodie Edwards

It was standing room only in Casper Wednesday night at a public meeting addressing the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's decision to downgrade 87,000 miles of the state's streams.

Christine Lictenfells is a longtime guide and outdoor educator. She says the DEQ's decision wasn't based on a clear understanding of how people use high mountain waters. She says  backpackers and horsepackers bathe there and expect clean waters. She had a suggestion for the DEQ.