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Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 20.3

 

READING THE WEST

read-ing [from ME reden, to explain, hence to read] _ vt. 1 to get the meaning of; 2 to understand the nature, significance, or thinking of; 3 to interpret or understand; 4 to apply oneself to; study.

 

Patagonia Power

In an article for USA Today, Tom Kenworthy reports that the outdoor recreation industry through their trade association is protesting recent actions by the Bush administration and Western governors to limit wilderness protection for vast areas in the region.

 

Call it Patagonia Power. The outdoor recreation industry, angered by recent actions of the Bush administration and Western governors that could lead to development on pristine federal lands, is starting to throw its economic and political weight around.

Officials from the Outdoor Industry Association—a trade group that represents 1,100 gear and clothing manufacturers and their $18-billion-a-year industry—pressed Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt last week to be a stronger advocate for protecting wilderness in his state from development and motorized off-road vehicles.

The meeting, which association President Frank Hugelmeyer called a good initial step, followed threats by the retailers' group to take two trade shows worth $24 million a year out of Salt Lake City. The industry raised that possibility after Leavitt struck a deal with the Bush administration in April to limit future consideration of wilderness protection for vast areas in Utah.

Another sign of the association's growing political involvement comes today, when the group begins lobbying Colorado Gov. Bill Owens on a controversial issue involving roads across federal lands. Owens has begun to press state claims to old rights-of-way across parks, wildlife refuges and areas that are now protected as if they were wilderness.

…The outdoor recreation industry leaders say their member companies—and millions of their customers—have a stake in protecting Western landscapes against Bush administration policies that would open them to industrial development such as oil and gas wells and mining.

…The outdoor recreation association jumped into the debate after Interior Secretary Gale Norton settled a long-dormant suit by Utah that challenged decisions by the Clinton administration to give 2.6 million acres of federal land in the state temporary protection from development until Congress could take final action.

…Norton's action means that the land will lose interim protection. She also ended studies of whether 200 million more acres in the West and Alaska should be shielded from development.

For information about The Salt Lake Tribune OpEd article written by OIA member Peter Metcalf, CEO of the Black Diamond outdoor equipment company, and the subsequent responses to the editorial, see: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/about/stand.html Metcalf's piece was an economic rebuttal to Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Secretary of Interior Gail Norton's deal to remove Wilderness Study Area protection from some six million acres of potential Utah Wilderness.

For information about the Outdoor Industry Association and their reports and current political activism, see: http://www.outdoorindustry.org/

SOURCE: Tom Kenworthy, "Outdoor Industry Taking on Eco-Issues," USA Today; 9 June 2003; http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-06-08-outdoors-usat_x.htm.

 

Utah's Great Outdoors

As part of the discussion about economic arguments for wilderness protection in the West, Mike Gorrell recently reported in The Salt Lake Tribune efforts to assess the impact on the region's economy of the high percentage of Utahns involved in human-powered outdoor recreation.

 

…Legions of Utahns participate regularly in some sort of outdoor recreation, be it walking off unwanted calories, bird watching around Great Salt Lake marshes or spending a few days exploring whitewater rapids such
as those that continue to carve Desolation Canyon.

In fact, the most recent "Participation & Spending Study" by the Outdoor Industry Foundation determined 81.7 percent of Utahns engaged in some form of human-powered outdoor activity last year, the third highest percentage in the country….

The survey also calculated Utahns spend about $96 million annually on gear to help them pursue their avocations, from Dan Burick's fly rod and his wife's hiking boots to the Stechschultes' crampons and climbing ropes.

…An intercept survey of the 1999-2000 ski season…determined that destination ski-resort visitors contributed more than $1 billion to the state's economy and helped create roughly 4,500 jobs.…

In 2001, Utahns also spent $819 million in the state on hunting and fishing. But the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research determined those two popular activities actually represent a drain on the state's economy since so many Utahns go out of state to hunt or fish or, more importantly, to purchase gear.

The university's analysis noted, however, that wildlife watching activities imported $97 million into Utah's economy, leaving a net positive effect of $70.4 million from wildlife-associated recreation.

For a summary of the 2001 report on "Utah's Tourism: Challenges & Opportunities," from the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic & Business research, see: http://www.business.utah.edu/BEBR/Tourism.pdf

SOURCE: Mike Gorrell, "Utah Residents Take to Outdoors in Droves, Adding Millions to Region's Economy," The Salt Lake Tribune; 8 June, 2003; http://www.sltrib.com.)

 

Outdoors in the West

A greater percentage of the population in the West participate in human-powered outdoor activities than in the other regions of the country. Chuck Oxley of the Associated Press took note of the recent report from the Outdoor Industry Foundation to comment on their report that Idahoans enjoy the outdoors most of all.

 

Idaho residents are the most likely to head outdoors when they want to have fun, a new study indicates…. The report, released by the Outdoor Industry Foundation's Business for Wilderness program, found that 840,000 Idaho residents—about 87 percent of the population—participate in at least one outdoor activity each year.

The nationwide study examined 21 specific human-powered activities, such as backpacking, flyfishing, whitewater kayaking and cross-country skiing.

Idaho came in first in two activities, with 32 percent of the population involved in single-track bicycling and a whopping 42 percent who went car camping.

Residents also ranked second in bird watching and third in dirt road bicycling, hiking, flyfishing and rafting. The state ranked fourth in backcountry camping and ice-climbing.

In addition, Idaho residents are in the top third in bicycle touring (paved), canoeing, natural and artificial rock climbing, recreational and touring kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

Overall, Wyoming and Utah came in second and third, with about 82 percent of their populations participating in at least one outdoor activity each year.

…Here is the ranking of states based on the percentage of population participating in 21 outdoor activities.

Following the state is the percentage of participating population, followed by the number of people participating:

Map of the US showing percentage by state of participating population.

"In Idaho, especially in Boise, the combination of urban housing next to wide-open spaces attracts people who seek an active lifestyle," said Geoff Harrison, Outdoor Program director at Boise State University.

…Harrison credits public land managers and politicians who lived more than a century ago with the foresight to keep Western lands open. In the East, private property ownership shut off opportunities for many outdoor activities.

"When the notion of public lands came about in the 1800s, the West is what was available. That's why you get Idaho, Utah and Wyoming as the epicenters of recreation," he said.

Regionally, the West saw the most participation in outdoor recreation at 73 percent, followed by the Midwest and the Northeast. The South trailed at about 63 percent.

When it comes to spending money, a different order emerges. Southerners spent the most on outdoor recreation of any region—at $4.9 billion, more than twice the $2 billion spent in the Northeast. The Midwesterners spent $3.4 billion and Westerners forked over $2.9 billion.

SOURCE: Chuck Oxley, "Idahoans enjoy outdoors more than most," http://espn.go.com/outdoors

 

Sports Participation

Five of the top ten sports in which Americans participate are done outdoors according to research from the National Sporting Goods Association. The Association also reports on sports participation by states. In the far western states, people in Utah play table tennis more than three times the national average.

2002 Participation—Ranked by Total Participation, Participated more than once (in millions), Seven (7) years of age and older. Percent Change is from 2001.

SPORT

TOTAL PERCENT CHANGE
Exercise Walking 82.2 5.0%
Camping (vacation/overnight) 55.4 13.8%
Swimming 54.7 -0.2%
Exercising with Equipment 50.2 14.4%
Fishing 44/2 -0.5%
Bowling 43.9 4.8%
Bicycle Riding 41.4 6.1%
Billiards/Pool 35.3 7.8%
Hiking 30.5 17.0%
Aerobic Exercising 29.0 10.4%

Sports Participation in 2001: State-by-State. On the index, the national average for each sport equals 100. The index is created by dividing a state’s percentage of participants in a particular average by the percentage of the U.S. population. (An index of 243 indicates a state’s population is 2.43 times more likely to participate in the activity than the national average.)

STATE SPORT INDEX
Arizona Backpacking
Hiking
237
179
California Hiking
Skateboarding
150
147
Colorado Skiing (downhill)
Hiking
267
250
Idaho Target Shooting
Touch Football
266
263
Nevada Skateboarding
Backpacking
274
248
New Mexico Target Shooting
Horseshoe Pitching
315
277
Oregon Camping
Volleyball
266
216
Utah Table Tennis
Camping
311
301
Washington Mountain Biking (on road)
Backpacking
222
204
Wyoming Target Shooting
Table Tennis
383
378
SOURCE: http://www.nsga.org/public/pages/index.cfm?pageid=54

 

The Politics of Fishing

The American Sportfishing Association reports on their web page that recreational fishing is the top outdoor leisure time activity for Americans. The Association further comments that participation in fishing has remained steady for the past ten years, while many other sports such as baseball and hunting have witnessed sharp declines. Today, more Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined.

Recreational fishing is big business, generating more than $116 billion in economic output and more than one million American jobs. Anglers spent over $5 billion on equipment, nearly $15 billion on fishing trips, and some $20 billion more on boats, trucks, licenses and other fishing-related products and services. For example, anglers paid a cool $290 million on ice alone!

Like the Outdoor Recreation Association, the ASFA is urging its members to get involved in the politics of environmental policies. This association opposes any efforts to restrict fishing, particularly in coastal waters such as the efforts promoted by the California Fish and Game Commission as part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. ( In 1999, California passed the Marine Life Protection Act that called for the state to create a network of Marine Protected Areas. In 2000, President Clinton signed an Executive Order on Marine Protected Areas echoing California's sentiment on a Federal level. [See: http://www.asafishing.org/index.cfm].)

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association is also urging its members to become engaged in environmental politics. This association opposes changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (Since 1986, FERC has been required to make consideration of recreational opportunities, conservation issues, and preservation of general environmental quality part of the decision-making process. One version of the new Energy Bill currently being debated in Congress seeks to remove these conservation restrictions from the re-licensing process. This would mean that energy production would be the only consideration for dam operators, putting at risk some of the fisheries of the West —anywhere there is a hydroelectric dam on a trout river. [See: http://flyfishing.miningco.com/library/ffm/conservation /aaaffta.htm].)

However, the downturn in the economy has negatively affected the recreational fishing industry, as reported from the Winston Rod Co. in Montana.

 

The economic downturn hit home in Twin Bridges recently with the news of layoffs at the Winston Rod Co.

The company recently laid off 11 employees, including the vice president of sales, chief financial officer and one shipping supervisor, said Winston Rod's President Mike "Woody" Woodard….

The company makes high-end graphite and bamboo fly-fishing rods.

Woodard said a slowdown in sales hit the company as the country entered a recession in the spring of 2001. Orders completely stopped immediately after Sept. 11, he said.

Since then, the company has been "working diligently to come back stronger," he said.

Winston Rod added more models to its inventory in an effort to attract more business. But even as the company gained a larger portion of the market from its competitors, its overall number of orders continued to drop, said Woodard.

…"The industry has just slowed quite a lot," he said.

Once the indecision created by the uncertainty of war and a struggling economy pass, Woodard said he believes Winston Rod will be in the right position to rebound.

SOURCE: Perry Buackus, "Butte, Mont.-Area Fishing-Rod Maker Lays Off 11, The Montana Standard, 12 March, 2003; http://www.mtstandard.com

 

Fishing Was Once So Simple

Monte Burke provides an inventory of what the "well-dressed" angler is using these days.

 

The fishing season is nearly upon us, and thoughts turn to $1,400 underwater spy cameras. What happens when R&D meets R&R?

Fly-fishing was once so simple. You headed out to the stream with a split-cane fly rod, a pair of rubber waders, some nylon line and a few flies. There was a good chance that your equipment was passed down, along with the crusty lore of the sport, from a grandfather or a father.

Not anymore. The $750 million fly-fishing industry is locked in an arms race. For better or worse, fly-fishers can be outfitted like Persian Gulf paratroopers. "We're a bunch of hard-core enthusiasts trying to solve old problems," says K.C. Walsh, president of Simms Fishing Products in Bozeman, Mont.

Recent innovations include the sensible (leak-proof waders), the sneaky (night goggles), the silly (underwa
ter video camera) and the sublime (an indestructible reel). You can buy everything here for $6,500, but Lord help you if you need this much just to catch trout.

SHIRT: Patagonia Tropical Flats ($80)

FLOTATION DEVICE: SOSpenders ($90). Auto-inflates like an air bag. Wave to your friends as you float downstream.

VEST: William Joseph Coastal Pack ($144). Has bladder pack for hydration…or beer.

IN THE VEST POUCH: Abel pliers ($170). Action Optics Lochsa sunglasses with built-in magnifiers ($130). C&F Design Marco Polo onstream fly-tying kit ($600). Mannix waterproof thermometer ($20). Motorola i55SR phone ($280). Flow-Tek's Aqua-Glo fly dressing ($10). Frog's Fanny floatant ($4). Orvis Tonkin Cane Fillet knife ($190). Daiichi hooks ($4). Photon Micro-Light ($23). Orvis Three-in-One tool ($13). Abel Perfect tool ($40). Rio Fluorocarbon tippet ($13). Flies: Orvis Club Sandwich ($2.50); Solitude Red Dandelion ($2).

NIGHT GOGGLES: Night Owl Optics ($750).

ROD: Sage TCR ($700). High-modulus graphite, experts only. 3.4 ounces.

LINE: 3M's Scientific Anglers GPX Mastery. ($58). Composite of microscopic glass beads and PVC. And you thought they only did Post-its.

RAIN JACKET: Patagonia Deep Wading ($185). Sealed cuffs keep arms dry.

GPS: Garmin Rino 120 ($268). Call your buddy and get a map to his spot.

REEL: Tibor Freestone ($475). Aluminum bar stock won't gum up. Never needs cleaning.

WADERS: Simms G3 ($425). Not bullet-proof, yet, but plenty puncture-resistant.

BOOTS: Bite Steelhead ($140). Felt soles, metal Ouzel spikes make slippery boulders behave.

UNDERWATER VIDEO: SeaView SeaMaster 600 System ($1,400). Fish, or just sit back and watch the trout on the connected LCD monitor.

BOAT: Buck's Bags Back Packer ($300). 20 pounds, two paddles and fits on your back.

SOURCE: Monte Burke, "Take Me to the River," Forbes; 31 March, 2003, Vol. 171, p. 94.

 

Heli-fishing

As Debra A. Kein reported recently, fly fishing is not what it used to be. It is now possible to fly into a remote river and if the fish aren't biting to get the chopper pilot to get you to another spot. And after a long day of casting, you can be whisked back to a cozy lodge for a dinner of smoked salmon stuffed with deer sausage.

 

Fishing trips used to mean soggy clothes, warm beer and a scruffy cabin. But for a growing school of upscale anglers, the sport is getting increasingly posh. These fishermen—and women—are happy to hand over thousands to fly-fish remote streams or hidden coves from Tierra del Fuego to the Yukon. People "want an outdoor adventure without too much discomfort," notes John Eustice, whose company arranges exclusive expeditions to New Zealand and Christmas Island.

Blame Robert Redford. Since he glamorized the sport 11 years ago in "A River Runs Through It," fly-fishing has taken off like an angry marlin. Total spending on the sport jumped almost 20 percent to $678 million between 1998 and 2000, according to the American Fly Fishing Trade Association….

 

SOURCE: Debra A. Klein, "A Pilot Runs Through It," Newsweek, 17 March, 2003, Vol. 141, p. 66.

 

Lewis and Clark's Fishing Holes

According to estimates provided by the American Rivers, 25 million Americans will retrace portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail during the bicentennial, hoping to experience some of the natural wonder the explorers did. And many Americans will fish the rivers along the way. However, the conditions of the rivers and their fish are much changed in 200 years. For example, wild Snake River salmon runs are down to 1% of what Lewis and Clark experienced—and still dwindling.

Advocacy groups such as American Rivers are convinced that continued failure to restore the fish that saved Lewis and Clark from starvation is no way to usher in the bicentennial of their expedition. The Sierra Club is hoping that their Lewis & Clark fishing guide will encourage people to discover the fishing holes used by Lewis and Clark and want to do something to help protect them.

For information about the American Heritage Rivers project, see: http://www.epa.gov/rivers/

For information on the American Rivers non-profit organization founded in 1973 to increase the number of rivers protected by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and to prevent the construction of large new dams on the last wild rivers, see: http://www.amrivers.org/whatwedo/default.htm

The Sierra Club has produced a guide to 10 great fishing spots along the Lewis and Clark Trail as part of the environmental group's use of the 200th anniversary of the expedition to protect wildlands.

"Fishing in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark is a lot more fun than reading a history textbook," said Drew Winterer, a fishing guide in Missoula, Mont., who wrote the booklet.

Fishing was a matter of both survival and science to the Corps of Discovery. Fish were both studied and eaten. Lewis and Clark ordered thousands of hooks and fishing lines and appointed Pvt. Silas Goodrich as the expedition fisherman.

Goodrich every night would try to catch fish for the corps. Sometimes the leaders would join him….

The 10 fishing spots are:

• Niobrara State Park in Nebraska, which the expedition visited in September 1804. The catfish, white bass and northern pike the Corps of Discovery caught remain abundant, and the river is little changed.

• The Missouri River in the corner of South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, where catfish were so plentiful, "we catch them at any time and place in the river," Clark wrote….

• The Yellowstone River in Montana, the longest free-flowing river in the Lower 48 states, near Yellowstone National Park.

• The Jefferson River in Montana, one of the fabled Three Forks of the Missouri. It was named for the president who sent Lewis and Clark west, and is known for trout.

• The Bitterroot River in Montana, which contains populations of Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi, a cutthroat trout species named for the explorers.

• The Lochsa River in Idaho, which runs between the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area and the last remaining roadless portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The remote area is largely unchanged from 1805, and offers salmon, steelhead and trout.

• South Fork of the Clearwater, in Idaho, where the corps spent 10 days in 1805 recovering from its journey over Lolo Pass in the Rockies. Switching from an all-meat diet to dried fish and grains also caused the men to suffer violent dysentery for 10 days….

• The Grande Ronde River south of Asotin, Wash., where huge steelhead trout can be found.

• The Columbia River Bar, near Astoria, Ore., where Lewis and Clark observed the importance of salmon to the Indians. "There was great joy with the natives last night in consequence of the arrival of the Salmon," Lewis wrote in his journal on April 19, 1806.

Source: Nicholas K, Geranios, "Sierra Club highlights Lewis and Clark's fishing holes," Casper, Wyoming, Star Tribune: http://www.casperstartribune.net.

 

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