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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday, July 30, 2004


Take pride in Idaho’s great outdoors

Guest opinion by SEN. MIKE CRAPO

A Republican, Sen. Mike Crapo is Idaho’s junior senator in the U.S. Senate.

Summertime in Idaho means many things to many Idahoans, but for most of us it means outdoor recreation. Last year, the Outdoor Industry Association released a study which found that a higher percentage of Idahoans participate in outdoor recreation than residents of any other state—about 87 percent of the population. Idahoans' interest in outdoor recreation is due in part to the fact that there are wilderness areas, national historic and scenic trails, national forests, and state and national parks in every corner of the state making Idaho home to a multitude of recreational opportunities. These include unparalleled fishing, hunting, climbing, skiing, kayaking, rafting, canoeing, camping, horseback riding, hiking, biking and off road vehicle recreation.

As an example of the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Idaho, consider recent hunting and fishing numbers. Based upon a series of quarterly surveys spanning 2003, the Idaho Fish and Game Department estimates that there were over 400,000 anglers fishing Idaho's waters last year, spending approximately $438 million in the process. The most recent hunting statistics reflect 2001 numbers in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there were 248,000 hunters; and with each one spending an average of $1,136, Idaho hunting expenditures surpassed $280 million that year.

With an eye to improving and expanding the already outstanding recreational opportunities in Idaho, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) is conducting public meetings and has organized focus groups this spring and summer throughout the state to better identify recreational options that people want to see developed in and around their local communities. They are formulating a statewide survey to be released late this summer or early fall based on their interviews and focus group findings. They hope to utilize all the information to encourage greater participation in outdoor recreational opportunities and make meaningful improvements to the existing system of parks.

Making use of what public lands have to offer is only part of the equation. With use comes responsibility. It is important that as we recreate on our public lands and waterways, we treat them with utmost care and consideration—for people who will visit next week or in 50 years. National and state programs exist to educate people about enjoying our natural resources wisely and responsibly.

IDPR is the official state sponsor for Take Pride in America, a national campaign that encourages cooperation between public and private sectors to protect the national treasures we have in our public parks and other recreation and cultural areas. Take Pride in America focuses on citizen stewardship as the key to restoring important public lands across the nation. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne chairs the Council of Governors for Take Pride in America.

The nationally-promoted Tread Lightly campaign encourages visitors to public lands and waterways to travel and recreate with minimum impact, respect the environment and rights of others and plan ahead. For more information about this valuable program, please visit my Web site at http://crapo.senate.gov.

With the recreational riches that Idaho has to offer, we benefit in mind and body from taking advantage of these unique treasures. Even more encouraging is the fact that plentiful and diverse recreational activities open the great outdoors for most everyone to enjoy. The experience becomes mutually beneficial for the visitor and natural resource when we use common sense, respect and planning in outdoor activities. In doing so, we preserve our special Idaho heritage for ourselves and for our children.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.