Outdoor Recreation

Who Owns the Forests? Mountain Bike Trail Riders and Park Pros Weigh In

Originally posted on NRPA’s Open Space blog on June 19, 2014.


Mountain bikers and park agencies often butt heads over illegally built trail systems, but some have found ways to collaborate and create exciting networks available to all. Photo: International Mountain Bicycling Association.

When I began my research for the feature article on collaboratively built mountain biking trails  for the June issue of Parks & Recreation Magazine, I started out by watching Pedal-Driven, a 2011 documentary that looks at both sides of the debate surrounding illegal mountain bike trail building in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests near Leavenworth, Washington. There, the U.S. Forest Service manages more than 4 million acres along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range, and in recent years, the land has been inundated with problems due to illegal trail building by mountain bikers in the area.

It’s a dilemma that public land managers see every day, and it gets to the heart of the preservation vs. conservation debate. Is it better to preserve publicly-owned lands for the future and make them inaccessible to humans who might harm them, or should we open them up to the public, accept the reality of human impacts on the landscape but nurture the next generation of environmental stewards? Also, what should be the role of government in the protection of publicly-owned lands, and what right does the government have to ban citizens from enjoying lands that they collectively own? Continue reading

Categories: Outdoor Recreation, Parks | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Adding a new New Year’s resolution

A look at post #1 from my cross-country road trip.

A look at post #1 from my cross-country road trip.

Last night, while looking at the Facebook history between me and a good friend, I noticed a couple of comments we messaged to each other a few years back that referred to some posts on my old blog. I launched it in 2003 when such things were set up as online journals used by individuals for free expression, not as the structured social media business outlets that we have today, and for several years, I updated it regularly. Since my last post on there in 2009, however, life has kept me pretty busy with working and all, and I’ve totally fallen out of the habit. I started that blog as a simple outlet where I could write out whatever was on my mind, and I kept it for years primarily for my own benefit. In looking at it last night, though, it really hit me how I don’t write like I used to anymore. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Outdoor Recreation, Personal, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Adventure is for everyone, no excuses

Adventure sports such as kayaking aren’t limited just to able-bodied athletic types. With proper training, preparation and facilities, wheelchair-bound explorers can enjoy its freedoms as well.

Every Saturday, I get a couple of Google Alerts that keep me in the know about the latest in the worlds of outdoor recreation, adventure travel and more (I’m a nerd, I know). A lot of what comes through is just local event information from all around the country that happens to include my targeted keywords, but there are always a few interesting tidbits. This week’s emails led me to an article about a few new handicap-accessible canoe and kayak launch facilities in and around some city parks in Midland, Michigan.

This is pretty cool stuff. A local community group spearheaded the effort, and the new access points highlight their push to make a wider range of recreation opportunities available to everyone. Although there are some obvious limitations inherent in different disabilities, a partial handicap doesn’t have to mean a person can’t take advantage of an activity that doesn’t require full mobility, and it’s great to see a community taking strides to make its facilities universally available. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , | 14 Comments

12 Must-Have Apps for Outdoor Junkies

Mophie Outdoor App Image

Courtesy of kyleroderick.com

I recently bought an iPhone, and like most new smartphone users, I quickly found myself sucked into the wide world of apps. With options available to help you do everything from checking your bank balance to tracking your bowel movements (yes, I’m serious), there are literally thousands of apps out there that can help you accomplish almost anything you can, or can’t, imagine.

Fortunately for the outdoor enthusiast, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of apps that cater to your specific interests and needs while you’re out exploring the wilderness you love. It might seem a little counterproductive to bring along a device that connects you with the rest of the world while you’re trying to get away from it, but take a look at the below list to see a few apps that might make your outdoor excursions a little more safe and enjoyable. Continue reading

Categories: Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Congress passes bill to support year-round outdoor recreation

West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort offers downhill mountain biking, geocaching, sport shooting, fly fishing, lift rides and more during the summer.

In the wake of an ugly year of partisan politics, there’s at least one thing both sides of the aisle can agree on — the benefits of year-round outdoor recreation. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 (H.R. 765, S. 382), which amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, has just passed in both the House of Representatives (394-0) as well as the Senate (unanimous consent), and given President Obama’s declared support of the bill, he’s expected to sign it into law in the next few weeks.

Under the 1986 legislation, the 121 ski areas in the country that operate on public lands (located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) were only authorized to support nordic and alpine skiing. So technically, snowboarding on ski area lands leased by the federal government was illegal. And there were no provisions for ski areas to provide for non-winter sports and activities, though many facilities are perfectly suited to offer a wide range of year-round opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The new bill fills in the gaps and opens the umbrella for things like mountain bike terrain parks and trail systems, frisbee golf courses, zip lines and ropes courses, but don’t worry — it specifically excludes things like tennis courts, golf courses and amusement rides. After all, the first specification listed in the bill is that each federally authorized activity and facility shall, as its primary purpose, “encourage outdoor recreation and enjoyment of nature.”

So what does this mean for the outdoor community? More opportunities for both business and adventure. Continue reading

Categories: Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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