The Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, released a report that estimates outdoor recreation was a $427.2 billion industry, responsible for about 2.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), in 2017 – and that the sector grew by 3.9 percent that year, outpacing the rate of overall U.S. economic growth that year by more than 50 percent.
This was also the first year the BEA attempted to break out outdoor recreation statistics by state. Those numbers showed Washington and Oregon have outdoors industries that are relatively proportionate to the industry’s share of the U.S. economy, while northern New England (Vermont, N.H., Maine) and the Rocky Mountains region (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah) rely more heavily on outdoor recreation as a percentage of their overall economy.
The Outdoors Industry Association has previously calculated the entire U.S. outdoors recreation industry could be as large as $850 billion annually, more than double GDP, if consumer spending on outdoor apparel, equipment that is manufactured overseas, and local travel is also taken into account, according to a related story on SNEWS, an industry trade magazine.
BEA’s 2017 analysis found boating and fishing -related activity, at $20.9 billion, comprised the largest portion of GDP. That was followed by RV -related activities, a $16.9 billion segment of the market. Motorcycles and ATVs ($9.1 billion), hunting, shooting and trapping ($8.8 billion), equestrian-related activities ($7.8 billion), and snow-related recreation ($5.6 billion) also made up a sizable share of GDP related to the outdoors economy.
One of the fastest growing segments identified in the report was in the guided tours and outfitted travel secotr, which accounted for $12.9 billion of GDP in 2017. The arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services combined contributed $112.9 billion to the GDP that year.
Like many Pacific Northwest residents, I didn’t actually grow up here. I often call myself a “northeasterner by upbringing, northwesterner by choice.” While I know firsthand the way one’s hometown maintains a powerful hold on their heart, I also never tire of finding reasons to love my adopted home.
So, when one of my younger brothers came to visit this month, I steered him towards the travel and tourism kiosk located in the baggage claim area at Portland International Airport. As an anime fan, I thought he’d be especially delighted by Travel Oregon’s colorful “Oregon. Only slightly exaggerated” campaign… and he was! But even my heart skipped a beat when I recognized one of the locations in the brochure as Ramona Falls.
I’d hiked there just two weeks earlier.
It’s as beautiful as what you see in this illustration.
The area around the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which includes the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Hood National Forest, is said to have the largest concentration of waterfalls in the United States.
Oregon’s most-famous waterfall is probably Multnomah Falls. My brother and I made a point to visit it during his trip; a spectacular sight, water plunging hundreds of feet to the pool below. It draws visitors from around the world, daily.
But to me, Ramona Falls is more beautiful.
Before I go any further, I want to share some words of warning: Ramona Falls is located in a wilderness area.
During my hike, I encountered many day hikers who seemed to take the lesson of 2017’s Eagle Creek fire, which occurred in the nearby Columbia River Gorge, to heart. During that fire, more than 100 day use visitors were stranded on the trail, and forced to undertake a long, difficult hike to safety.
But I also saw many people who not well-prepared, carrying only a bottle of water and whatever fit in their pockets.
As you approach the Sandy River, the trail is clearly marked with signs that warn about the dangers of crossing. Pay attention: If you can’t safely secure your child or pet to you and carry them across an improvised footbridge mad from a fallen tree or log without losing your balance, don’t try!
I’m sharing this from my own experience: Many people bring their dogs on this hike; I assumed I’d one of them, and it was a mistake. While I believed my young pup had done enough work on a balance beam to handle a log crossing, I failed to account for how much he likes to swim. While the current was safe – though, still quite strong – against the body of an adult human, it was much too deep and too swift for my Siberian Husky. Intellectually, I’d known the river can be dangerous, emotionally, it left me far more nervous for some of the small children I saw on this trail after I’d jumped into the current myself and fought to haul 65 pounds of wriggling, wet dog to the shore.
Signs that warn about the dangers of river crossings are posted alongside this trail for a reason: hikers have died here, after flash floods caused by heavy rainfall, in 2004 and 2014.
It’s easy be lulled into a false sense of security when you see others navigate a risky situation successfully; I know, I made the same mistake.
My advice is to read trip reports, check weather listings, and use more caution than you think you need to. Just because nothing seems to have gone wrong for many others, doesn’t mean it can’t.
Still: At the right time of year, when the river crossing is approached with appropriate caution and care, the Ramona Falls loop trail is a beautiful hike.
The 7-to-8 mile loop has a relatively gentle grade, with a cumulative 1000 feet of elevation gain.
The trail culminates with a spectacular view from the base of Ramona Falls, which really do look like something out of a fairy tale; truly, they need no exaggeration.
Source information: Catherine “Cat” Caruso works in the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region Office of Communications and Community Engagement. When she’s not editing the “Your Northwest Forests” blog, she’s usually shopping for fur-repellent office wear. She considers her outdoorsmanship skills to be “average,” which means there’s a 50 percent chance yours are better – but also, an equal chance that they’re worse.
Jay Horita is a Youth & Community Engagement Specialist for Northwest Youth Corps, supporting the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region. Here, he shares notes from a weekend backpacking experience with Outdoor Asian, a nonprofit whose goal is to encourage and study the participation of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the outdoors.
On Friday, August 30th 2019, eleven members of the Outdoor Asian community from the Oregon and Washington chapters drove up a pothole-ridden and rocky Forest Service road to the Glacier View Trailhead in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.
After a hot meal of noodles, we hit the sleeping bags to prepare for the next day’s backpacking adventure.
This trip was the very first of its kind for Outdoor Asian in manyways: the first backpacking trip, the first multi-chapter collaboration event, the first trip occurring in wilderness areas of two public land agencies.
Trip leaders Chris Liu and I spent much time planning a positive, fun, challenging, and educational backpacking adventure for eleven Outdoor Asians.
We deliberately chose a diverse meal plan, which ranged from instant noodles to elaborate dahl and roti from scratch (rolled out on our Nalgene bottles!), to showcase the vast diversity of Asian backpacking food options.
Our goal was to ensure the participants realized they don’t have to give up their culinary heritage on trips into the back country! Thinking back to my early years in back country adventuring, I remember trips where all I ate were dehydrated mashed potatoes and tortillas, so it was great to treat everyone to familiar foods. We even had a rare tea blend, a Yuzu Green tea, to enjoy throughout the trip. The food brought us closer together, helping make the trip feel more like a family adventure.
Besides giving everyone a great backcountry experience, Chris and I also wanted to talk about a range of important topics from Leave-No-Trace principles to Wilderness First Aid. Some even had the chance to practice wilderness first aid by patching each others’ blisters and hot spots!
Our group included seasoned public land stewards, from biologists to district rangers, who shared their experiences working for the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.
Those uninitiated to public land management got a crash course on the differences between National Forest land (where we started the hike) and National Park land (where we ended it).
Crossing the boundary from the Glacier View Wilderness into Mt. Rainier Wilderness was a special moment!
For me, the ultimate trip highlight was arriving at the Gobblers Knob fire lookout tower, where Mt. Rainier (or Tahoma, one of many Native American names for the mountain) peaked its glacier-covered summit through the clouds.
The mountain was spectacular and humbling. The lakes and meadows we visited were calming. The stars gave us perspective. The wilderness gave us the best backdrop to share our experiences as Outdoor Asians and develop our connection to a life outdoors.
In future trips, we hope to address how all public lands (indeed all lands in the Americas) were cared for by the diverse tribes, groups, and nations of Native Americans; and still are, in many places.
Most importantly, we celebrated our shared connection to the land across all cultures. The Forest Service is, like most things, ephemeral in comparison to the mountain and its landscapes.
The USDA Forest Service and Hydro Flask have embarked on a unique partnership to protect firefighters working to protect Your Northwest Forests, and protect our environment at the same time!
The Forest Service’s National Greening Fire Team partnered with the Bend, Ore. -based company, which provided 64 oz reusable, thermal-shielded water bottles to thousands of firefighters serving throughout Washington and Oregon this summer, at no cost to the firefighters and minimal cost to the agency.
Staying hydrated is critical to conducting any outdoors activity safely. It’s especially critical for wildland firefighters, who are often required to work in direct sunlight on the hottest days of summer, wearing protective clothing and boots, often while performing physically arduous work like clearing a fire line with hand tools, sometimes just inches away from hot coals or even an actively-burning fire.
The partners hope that putting durable, reusable, thermally-protected water bottles in the hands of firefighters will help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles on fire-related incidents.
“Thanks to Hydro Flask, over 3,000 firefighters on incidents throughout the Pacific Northwest will receive a reusable water bottle, contributing to the National Greening Fire Team’s goal of waste minimization on incidents while maintaining high standards of firefighter safety and wellness,” Lara Buluc, Sustainable Operations and Co-Climate Change Coordinator for the USDA Forest Service, said.
The National Greening Team is working towards a goal of producing no net waste on agency-managed fire incidents by the year 2030.
The partnership is a way for HydroFlask, which is based in Bend, Ore., to show it’s commitment to local firefighters, Phyllis Grove, vice president for marketing and ecommerce for Steel Technology LCC (HydroFlask’s parent company), said in a prepared statement.
“This win-win opportunity supports the Team’s vision of achieving net zero waste at incidents,” Buluc said.
USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff report
Catching a glimpse of a goat perched high on the side of a craggy hillside or cliff is a welcome sight to many hikers and other recreational users of Your Northwest Forests.
But as the number of people using the forests increases, there’s also an increased risk of human-wildlife encounters that pose a threat to both humans and goats.
At places like Mount Ellinor on the Olympic National Forest, where the goats don’t naturally range (they were introduced to the area by hunters), salt they need to live is scarce.
Goats have been known to seek out humans, sometimes aggressively, in search of their food, sweat, and even urine.
In other forests, some mountain goats have grown accustomed to curious people getting too close and lost their fear of humans, with similar results.
While several agencies are working to relocate some goats to areas where they naturally range, it’s important to prevent all wild goats from becoming habituated to human contact, so they can remain wild without posing an undue threat to humans’ safety.
To protect wildlife from negative impacts of human contact:
Keep your distance! Stay at least 50 yards away from all mountain goats – about half the length of a football field.
If a mountain goat approaches, slowly move away from it to keep a safe distance.
If it continues to approach, try to scare it off by yelling, waving a piece of clothing, or throwing rocks.
Never surround, crowd, chase, or follow a mountain goat.
Do not feed mountain goats (or allow them to lick your skin, clothes, or gear, which may have absorbed salt from your sweat).
If you need to urinate while hiking, move far from the trail to avoid leaving concentrations of salts and minerals trailside, or contributing to the accumulation of minerals in one place.
Source information: Olympic National Forest (website)
One of the most unique sights in Your Northwest Forests is recent scenes of mountain goats in blindfolds, hoisted high above the forest floor by helicopter.
It’s part of a multi-agency effort to relocate the goats from Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park in Washington, where they’re not a native species to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, also in Washington. At the first location, the goats have approached and even attacked hikers while seeking salt, which they can’t easily find there. In the new location, natural salt deposits are plentiful and a diminished local population of goats expected to benefit from an expanded selection of mates.
Recently, KIRO-TV 7 featured four high-flying minutes of mountain goat video, in a behind-the-scenes look of the relocation effort.
Recreation on public land is increasingly popular in the Pacific Northwest. But recreation management requires balancing opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors with mitigating the effects on wildlife and other natural resources.
Recreation and wildlife managers who are grappling with these issues asked scientists to quantify the impacts of motorized and non-motorized recreation on elk.
Researchers also found that such disruptions effectively reduce the total amount of usable habitat available for elk herds.
Land managers can use this information to assess trade-offs between multiple, and often competing, land uses. When combined with planning efforts that include stakeholder engagement, this research may offer a clearer path forward on balancing human and wildlife needs on National Forests and other public and privately-held lands.
The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 fundamentally transformed the surrounding landscape, triggering geophysical processes that are still unfolding.
Among them was a debris avalanche caused by the eruption, that blocked the outlet from Spirit Lake to the North Fork Toutle River.
To prevent the rising lake level from breaching the blockage and potentially flooding communities downstream, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built an outlet tunnel to maintain safe lake levels.
However, the tunnel must be periodically closed for repairs, during which time the lake level rises.
Prolonged closures, combined with increased volume from melting rainfall and snow in the spring, could allow the water level to rise high enough to breach the natural dam.
In 2015, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest commissioned a study to assess risks associated with alternative outlet options.
A team consisting of researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Oregon State University authored the study.
At the team’s request, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a dam safety risk-assessment of long-term solutions: maintaining the existing tunnel, rehabilitating the tunnel, creating an open channel across the blockage, or installing a buried conduit across the blockage.
The assessment determined that there is no risk-free way to remove water from Spirit Lake, but the likelihood is generally low that these solutions will fail.
With this information, the Forest Service is moving forward with developing a long-term solution to managing the Spirit Lake outlet.
It features interviews two Forest Service research fish biologists, Rebecca Flitcroft and Gordon Reeves, both assigned to the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station.
The scientists explain how some fish species in the Pacific Northwest have adapted to benefit from the impact of intermittent forest fires:
Fire adds silt and small rocks or gravel, which replenish materials needed to for some fish to create spawning beds.
Dead trees may fall into streams, creating complexity in the stream’s flow, which can reduce stress on fish by providing refuge from strong currents.
Log jams especially benefit juvenile species by creating broad flood plains, further diffusing rapid currents and offering many nooks and crannies in which to evade predators while nourishing the insect larvae, worms, beetles, and other organisms they may feed on.
In the Pacific Northwest, native salmon and trout (family Salmonidae) are some of the toughest survivors on the block. Over time, these fish have evolved behavioral adaptations to natural disturbances, and they rely on these disturbances to deliver coarse sediment and wood that become complex stream habitat. Powerful disturbances such as wildfire, post fire landslides, and debris flows may be detrimental to fish populations in the short term, but over time they enrich in-stream habitats, enhancing long-term fish survival and productivity.
LAND MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS
Forest management activities, such as enhancing river network connectivity through fish passage barrier removal and reducing predicted fire intensity and sizes, may increase the resilience of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the face of disturbances such as climate change and wildfire.
Natural disturbances, along with sound riparian management and road management practices that allow natural flood plain functioning, are important in maintaining healthy change in aquatic habitats. Connected, complex aquatic habitats benefit from ecosystem management practices that are analogous to the spatial extent of wildfires and bridge human-imposed divides such as land ownership boundaries.
Fire planning that includes aquatic issues such as habitat quality, stream network connectivity, and fish population resilience offers resource managers the opportunity to broaden fire management goals and activities to include potential positive effects on aquatic habitats.
Source information: The USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station is a leader in the scientific study of natural resources. We generate and communicate impartial knowledge to help people understand and make informed choices about natural resource management and sustainability. The station has 11 laboratories and research centers in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, and manages 12 active experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds.
PORTLAND, Ore.(Sept. 10, 2019) — The USDA Forest Service will accept applications for more than 1,000 seasonal spring and summer jobs in Oregon and Washington from Sept. 16 – 30, 2019.
Positions are available in multiple fields, including fire, recreation, natural resources, timber, engineering, visitor services, and archaeology.
Applications must be submitted on www.USAJOBS.gov between Sept. 16 – 30, 2019.
More information about seasonal employment, available positions, and application instructions can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/jobs. Job descriptions, including a link to submit applications, will be posted to www.USAJOBS.gov on Sept. 16.
Interested applicants are encouraged to create a profile on USAJOBS in advance to save time once the hiring process begins.
“We’re looking for talented, diverse applicants to help us manage over 24 million acres of public land in the Pacific Northwest,” Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester, said. “If you’re interested in caring for our national forests and serving local communities, I encourage you to apply.”
mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and
productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of
present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public
land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the
largest forestry research organization in the world.
The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region includes 17 National Forests, a National Scenic Area, a National Grassland, and two National Volcanic Monuments, all within the States of Oregon and Washington. These public lands provide timber for people, forage for cattle and wildlife, habitat for fish, plants, and animals, and some of the best recreation opportunity in the country.
News release in English, русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish):
Join the Forest Service!Agency Accepting Applications for over 1,000 Seasonal Positions in Oregon and Washington (English)