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For the week of June 4 - 10, 2003


Study: Idaho residents enjoy outdoors more than any other state

Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho— Idaho residents are the most likely to head outdoors when they want to have fun, a new study says.

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, fly fishing, 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, fly fishing, 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 each.

Last on the list was Mississippi, with 44 percent participation, preceded by Tennessee with 56 percent and Kentucky with 58 percent.

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.

"You can have your home on a quarter acre in the North End but your recreational access is to 100,000 acres just down the street," Harrison said.

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 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.

In Blaine County, for example, active use of nearby public lands benefits the economies of both local businesses and the county. In a final financial report on Nordic ski activities for the 2002-2003 season, the Blaine County Recreation District reported $295,161.31 in total revenues from season and day passes and donations.

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, which totaled $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.

This is the first year the study has broken down participation on a state-by-state basis. Researchers conducted 7,000 interviews collected in 2001 and 2002.



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