Thursday, January 30, 2020

Outdoor Foundation Study: Half of the US population does not participate in outdoor recreation at all

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), released the latest Outdoor Participation Report this week, showing about half the U.S. population participated in outdoor recreation at least once in 2018, including hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing and biking among many more outdoor activities. Unfortunately, the report highlights an alarming trend that just under half the U.S. population does not participate in outdoor recreation at all.

The report, available here, also highlighted the following troubling trends:

* Less than 20 percent of Americans recreated outside at least once a week.

* Americans went on one billion fewer outdoor outings in 2018 than they did in 2008.

* Kids went on 15 percent fewer annual outings in 2018 than they did in 2012.

Additionally, the report shows a continued gap between the diversity of outdoor participants and the diversity of the U.S. population, specifically where non-Caucasian ethnic groups reported going on far fewer outings in 2018 than they did just five years ago.

Interestingly, there is a strong trend toward close-to-home recreation. The report indicates that of the people who report they participate in outdoor activity, 63 percent report they go outside within 10 miles of their home. Some bright spots from the report showed that female outdoor participation increased by an average of 1.7 percent over the last three years and Hispanic participation in the outdoors was the strongest among ethnic groups.

“We know from study after study that recreating outside, even at minimal levels, greatly benefits an individual’s physical and mental health and also increases academic outcomes and community connections. But unfortunately, the barriers to getting outside are greater for Americans living in cities or in areas with fewer transportation options,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director at Outdoor Foundation. “This is why Outdoor Foundation, along with OIA and other like-minded organizations, is working to reach new populations of Americans who don’t get outdoors often or at all or don’t see themselves in the outdoors and encouraging them to get – and thrive – outside.”

OIA and its member companies have been concerned about the growing trends and gaps in outdoor recreation for some time, and the report confirmed those worries. That is why OIA and Outdoor Foundation have committed to getting all of America outside more often through a two-pronged approach that includes community-based initiatives and local, state and federal policy work.

In 2019, Outdoor Foundation shifted its focus to underserved communities and now provides larger multi-year grants to build lasting change at the community level. Outdoor Foundation Thrive Outside Community grants bring together partners such as The Trust for Public Land, community organizations, environmental organizations, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club and local leaders in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, San Diego and Grand Rapids.

“Currently, 90 cents of every health care dollar is spent on treating people with chronic disease,” said Jeff Bellows, vice president, corporate citizenship + public affairs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “We need to attack the root causes of these diseases, for example, by helping people adopt healthier lifestyles to make sure they are giving themselves and their families the best chance at a healthy life. Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies have programs around the country that are addressing social determinants of health and are providing people and communities with resources to improve their health and prevent diseases.”

OIA is working with Congress, state and local governments, community leaders and businesses to get people and their communities better access to the outdoors and instill a habit of getting outside regularly. For example, at the federal level, OIA, along with other outdoor groups, is pushing for the full $900 million in funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (HR. 3195/S. 1081). Over 90 percent of LWCF funding is used to increase recreation access to the public. OIA is also pressing Congress to approve the Transit to Trails Act (H.R. 4273/S. 2467) that would support connector transit options in underserved communities to and from public lands. Closer to home, OIA has long supported state and local programs like Colorado’s Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) program, which helps to conserve land and provide increased opportunities for outdoor recreation. The key to GOCO’s success so far has been its ability to balance protection of iconic awe-inspiring lands as well as open spaces within or adjacent to communities so that more people have more options to get outside.

Outdoor Foundation has developed the Outdoor Participation Report for over 10 years. The survey reflects data gathered during the 2018 calendar year and garnered a total of 20,069 online interviews consisting of people ages six and older.

Hikers may want to note that this report continues to show a steady and significant increase in hiking. My book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, includes a long discussion on the exponential growth rates of hiking since the 1950s as shown in this study, as well as in studies conducted by the U.S. Government through the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. My book also discusses the ramifications this growth is already having on our parks, trails and wildlife, and what trends government officials are predicting for the future.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Moonlight Skiing at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Join National Park Service rangers and the Gunnison Nordic Club for a moonlight ski at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park on February 8.

From 5 pm until 8:30 pm the South Rim visitor center will host an evening of skiing and camaraderie. Bring your Nordic ski gear, classic or skate, and enjoy a ski under the full moon. Stop by the visitor center to chat with rangers, meet fellow skiers, and enjoy a few light refreshments. Carpooling is encouraged as parking is limited.

For more information please visit and


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, January 27, 2020

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approves 13 Colorado the Beautiful Trail Grants at its January meeting

At its January 15 meeting, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved trail-funding allocations for the 2019-2020 Colorado the Beautiful Trail Grants as recommended by the Colorado Recreational Trails Committee. The Committee recommended funding 13 grants for a total award amount of $2,988,006.81.

Statewide Trails Program Manager Fletcher Jacobs highlighted the Committee’s wildlife review process and the importance of “balancing wildlife and habitat needs with recreation needs in Colorado. These trail projects will connect Coloradans to the outdoors with new and improved trails that provide more places for everyone to get outside.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Trails Program administers grants for trail-related projects on an annual basis. Local, county, and state governments, federal agencies, special recreation districts, and nonprofit organizations with management responsibilities over public lands may apply for and are eligible to receive non-motorized and motorized trail grants.

Colorado the Beautiful Grant Program 
The Colorado the Beautiful Grant Program funds construction or planning projects to increase access to public lands for Coloradans and visitors alike. The program is a unique opportunity that has goals, objectives, and criteria independent of the normal motorized and non-motorized CPW grants that run each fall.

Construction grant applications prioritized connections to existing outdoor recreation opportunities, proximity and benefit to local communities, wildlife/resource mitigation, and improved links to other trail systems.

Planning grant applications prioritized large-scale trail and resource planning efforts, collaborative multi-agency and organization approach, and a holistic balance and evaluation of trail system improvements and wildlife/resource conservation and mitigation.

The Colorado the Beautiful Grant Program is a partnership between CPW and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). This was the final grant cycle of the program.

Grant Stats 
Construction - 7 grants totaling $2,365,816
Planning - 6 grants totaling $634,082

At the January 15 meeting, Parks and Wildlife commissioners praised the considerations given to wildlife in the grant application process.

Suzanne O’Neill, Executive Director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation, commended Colorado Mountain Bike Association’s Outside 285 project in the Northeast Region, saying their master plan did a great job of balancing the demand for recreational needs with wildlife. “We’re satisfied this could be a very good spot and a model,” she said.

The Outside 285 project seeks to complete a regional planning effort to connect areas of interest along the US-285 corridor in a sustainable and environmentally conscious manner. Connections include areas near Staunton State Park, Buffalo Creek and the North Elk Recreation Areas.

Commissioners concurred that the Outside 285 Plan was a great example of the mountain bike community working to balance trails and wildlife habitat. A complete list of the Colorado the Beautiful Trail Grants is available on CPW's website.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, January 24, 2020

Rocky Mountain National Park Sets Visitation Record in 2019

Rocky Mountain National Park set another visitation record in 2019. The park counted 4,678,804 visits last year, a 1.9% increase over the prior year. 2019 also marked the 5th year in a row that Rocky surpassed 4 million visits. Between 1975 and 2011 the park averaged roughly 3 million visits; however, that number has rocketed upward by roughly 50% since then.

Below is a graph showing total visitor counts since the park's inception:


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, January 23, 2020

US 36 Between Lyons and Estes Park To Close For 30 Days

US 36 will be completely closed for roughly 30 days near Mile Post 8, located between Lyons and Estes Park. The closure is scheduled to begin in March 2020. As soon as the exact dates of the closure are set, they will be posted on the CDOT website.

During the project the roadway will be removed and large drainage culverts will be installed beneath the highway. These permanent repairs are a follow-up to emergency repairs made after the September 2013 Flood, and will improve the roadway’s resilience to future flood events. Ultimately, the project will force the Little Thompson River back into its natural alignment through Muggins Gulch.

Initial road work is scheduled to begin this month, and is expected to finish sometime in early 2021.

While US 36 is closed, drivers will need to use State Highway 7 or US 34 to travel to and from Estes Park. The project team is coordinating with emergency service providers in the area and the Estes Park School District to ensure continuity of emergency response and bus operations.

Hikers should note that The Lion Gulch Trail will remain open to the public except during rock blasting operations.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Colorado Parks & Wildlife officers confirm latest wolf pack sighting in NW Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials are confirming they have additional evidence that a group of wolves is now residing in northwest Colorado.

On Jan. 19, CPW wildlife officers investigated the discovery of an animal carcass surrounded by large wolf-like tracks in the northwest corner of Moffat County. While conducting their investigation in the field, they made an attempt to locate the wolves. In their search, they heard distinct howls in the area. Officers used binoculars to observe approximately six wolves about two miles from the location of the carcass.

“This is a historic sighting. While lone wolves have visited our state periodically including last fall, this is very likely the first pack to call our state home since the 1930s. I am honored to welcome our canine friends back to Colorado after their long absence,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It’s important that Coloradans understand that the gray wolf is under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. While the animals have naturally migrated to our state and their presence draws public interest, it’s important that people give them space. Due to their Protected status, there are severe federal penalties for anyone that intentionally harms or kills wolves in our state.”

"Right after our two officers heard the howls from the wolves, they used binoculars to observe approximately six wolves about two miles from the location of the carcass," said JT Romatzke, Northwest Region Manager for CPW. "After watching them for about 20 minutes, the officers rode in to get a closer look. The wolves were gone but they found plenty of large tracks in the area.”

According to the officers, the tracks measured approximately 4.5 to 5.5 inches and appear to have been made by at least six animals.

"As we have made clear, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will not take direct action in these cases," said Dan Prenzlow, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "We have the leading experts on wildlife management and species recovery working for our agency, but while wolves remain federally protected, they are under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We will continue to work with our federal partners and monitor the situation."

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, killing a wolf can result in federal charges, including a $100,000 fine and a year in prison, per offense. The public is urged to contact CPW immediately and fill out a report if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity in Colorado. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the CPW website.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, January 13, 2020

National Park Service Announces Fiscal Year 2019 Accomplishments to Reduce Wildfire Risks

National Park Service (NPS) Deputy Director David Vela recently announced that the NPS successfully treated 230,308 acres of public land in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, helping to reduce wildfire risks in America’s national parks and safeguarding nearby communities, natural resources and infrastructure.

Prescribed fire was used to treat nearly 207,000 acres, and an additional 24,000 acres were treated by mechanical and other methods. In support of recently issued Executive and Secretary’s Orders calling for an increase in active management, 17,000 acres were treated through active vegetation treatments. A robust vegetation management program improves the resiliency of landscapes to wildfires and preserves public lands for a variety of uses and enjoyment by the public.

“The accomplishments of our fire and aviation programs are vital to meeting our mission as well as the Secretary’s priorities,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “We are proud of the dedication and hard work completed over the past year by the men and women of the aviation, structural and wildland fire programs.”

In FY 2019, the bureau reached a milestone with over 90% of the 31,339 structures listed in the NPS Wildland Fire Geodatabase now surveyed for threats from wildland fire. Also in 2019, the areas adjacent to more than 6,000 structures were treated and the potential of risk from wildfire was reduced.

Research in wildland fire to better inform and fuels management is another high priority for the NPS. In 2019, the following five research projects were funded totaling $157,000:

• Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California: Effectiveness of Fuel treatments on Wildfire in a Chaparral Community

• Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico: Identifying Activity Periods of an Endangered Salamander to Facilitate Fuels Treatments

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Changes in Woody Fuel Loading and Ericaceous Shrub Cover from 2003 to 2019 in Great Smoky Mountains NP

• Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska: Fire and Ice – integrated fire research to inform managers on the short and long term impacts of fire and climate on ice-rich permafrost soils, water resources, vegetation and wildlife habitat

• Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier national parks, Wyoming and Montana: Drivers of Early Postfire Tree Regeneration and Indicators of Forest Resilience in National Parks of the Northern Rocky Mountains

Within the NPS Structural Fire Program, NPS revised and updated all structural fire classes and added a hazardous materials class; this provides bureau structural firefighters with all the multi-faceted training needed for certification. More than 150 NPS employees were trained in structural firefighting, including 41 new firefighters, 26 new driver operators and 92 at firefighter refresher classes. In addition, 34 new park structural fire coordinators were trained during 2019. The program has also developed cancer awareness and prevention procedures and a grant to support structural firefighter gear cleaning for cancer prevention in parks.

Aviation continues to be an important multidisciplinary program for the NPS. In 2019, aviation resources supported wildland fire, search and rescue, law enforcement, and natural resources studies, surveys, and research missions. Approximately 11,000 hours of flight time, from 7,400 flights were conducted in 2019.

In addition to treatment projects conducted domestically, the DOI and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, continue to support ongoing efforts to combat the wildfires in Australia. At the request of the Australian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, DOI and the USFS have deployed 150 firefighters thus far, 10 total from the NPS.

“The loss of life, property and environment are devastating in Australia,” said U.S. Secretary David Bernhardt. “The United States stands with our partners, and we will continue to support Australia in sending our world class personnel to contain these blazes and help protect Australian communities and wildlife.”

The U.S., Australia and New Zealand have been exchanging fire assistance for more than 15 years as the Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during peak wildfire season in the United States. The last time the U.S sent firefighters to Australia was in 2010.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Headed to Grand Teton National Park?

Are you planning to visit Grand Teton National Park this summer - or anytime down the road? I wanted to let you know that I just published a new eBook that provides hikers with access to trail information while hiking in the park.

Exploring Grand Teton National Park is the mobile version of, the most comprehensive website on the internet for hiking trail information in Grand Teton National Park. This book was published to provide readers with convenient access to the information contained on while in the park, or on the trail, where internet access is most likely unavailable. Additionally, the format of this book will provide a much better experience for smartphone users.

Exploring Grand Teton National Park covers 44 hikes. This includes 41 hikes within Grand Teton National Park, as well as 3 hikes in the Teton Pass area, located just south of the park boundary. Like the website, the book includes driving directions to each trailhead, detailed trail descriptions, key features along the route, difficulty ratings, photographs, maps and elevation profiles, which provide readers with a visual representation of the change in elevation they’ll encounter on each hike. Some hikes will also include historical tidbits related to the trail. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll in the park, or an epic hike deep into Grand Teton's backcountry, this book provides all the tools you'll need to make your hiking trip as enjoyable as possible.

As with our four websites, this book also contains several directories that will help you choose the best hikes suited to your preferences and abilities. This includes hikes listed by location within the park, hikes listed by key trail feature, and hikes sorted by difficulty rating. I’ve also included lists of our top 10 hikes, the best easy hikes, the top fall hikes, and the top early season hikes.

The book is now available at Amazon.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Eyewitness account plus scavenged elk carcass indicates likely presence of multiple wolves in northwest Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say an eyewitness report of six large canids traveling together in the far northwest corner of the state last October, in conjunction with last week's discovery of a thoroughly scavenged elk carcass near Irish Canyon - a few miles from the location of the sighting - strongly suggests a pack of gray wolves may now be residing in Colorado.

According to the eyewitness, he and his hunting party observed the wolves near the Wyoming and Utah borders. One of the party caught two of the six animals on video.

"The sighting marks the first time in recent history CPW has received a report of multiple wolves traveling together," said CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke. "In addition, in the days prior, the eyewitness says he heard distinct howls coming from different animals. In my opinion, this is a very credible report."

After learning about the scavenged elk carcass, CPW initiated an investigation which is still ongoing. At the site, the officers observed several large canid tracks from multiple animals surrounding the carcass. According to CPW wildlife managers, the tracks are consistent with those made by wolves. In addition, the condition of the carcass is consistent with known wolf predation. (Photos below)

"The latest sightings add to other credible reports of wolf activity in Colorado over the past several years," said Romatzke. "In addition to tracks, howls, photos and videos, the presence of one wolf was confirmed by DNA testing a few years ago, and in a recent case, we have photos and continue to track a wolf with a collar from Wyoming’s Snake River pack.

Romatzke says from the evidence, there is only one logical conclusion CPW officials can make.

"It is inevitable, based on known wolf behavior, that they would travel here from states where their populations are well-established," he said. "We have no doubt that they are here, and the most recent sighting of what appears to be wolves traveling together in what can be best described as a pack is further evidence of the presence of wolves in Colorado." Romatzke adds CPW will continue to operate under the agency's current management direction.

"We will not take direct action and we want to remind the public that wolves are federally endangered species and fall under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. As wolves move into the state on their own, we will work with our federal partners to manage the species," he said.

The public is urged to contact CPW immediately if they see or hear wolves or find evidence of any wolf activity. The Wolf Sighting Form can be found on the CPW website. For more information about wolves, visit the CPW website.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park offers guided snowshoe excursions

Rocky Mountain National Park officials published this blurb on their Facebook page yesterday:
Join a beginner level winter snowshoe exploration to learn how to enjoy winter safely on snowshoes. No previous experience needed. Bring your own snowshoes. Ages 8 and up only. Reservations are required and cannot be made more than 7 days in advance. No more than six people per reservation.

Programs on the East Side (Estes Park) run Jan 10–Mar 22 and are offered Fridays and Sundays. Call 970-586-1223 to make a reservation. Programs on the West Side (Grand Lake) run from Dec 27-Feb 28 and are offered on Fridays. Call 970-586-1513 for reservations.
More info here.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Grand Teton National Park