As a member of Governor Inslee's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, I had the privilege to work with some of the best people and organizations in Washington State. Last week was no exception. Sierra Club Military Outdoors partner Outdoor Research generously hosted rrepresentatives of the climbing community from across the state to discuss issues ranging from access and permitting to climbing management and diversifying the climbing community in Washington. Doug Walker (Sierra Club Foundation and American Alpine Club Director), Dan Nordstrom (fellow task force member and President of Outdoor research), and I joined with representatives from the Mountaineers, Sierra Club, American Alpine Club, Access Fund, Washington Climber's Coalition, Outdoor Alliance, AMGA, and professional climbers to formulate recommendations from the climbing community to the task force to include in its final report this Fall. This report, ultimately written by leaders from across Washington State's outdoor community based upon the input from private citizens, nonprofits, industry, and land managers, will advise Governor Inslee on how to leverage the power of the outdoors in Washington State.
The outdoor industry or community as a whole includes a wide spectrum of members that make it a critical factor to the public health, economy, and recreation of any state. Think about everything that goes into a Seattlite's weekend backpacking trip. The hiker enjoys public lands managed by local, state, or federal agencies. These lands are also promoted and protected by non-profits and NGOs whose missions range from access and recreation to conservation. The hiker may have hired a local commercial guide or attended a local outdoor school for technical or medical training, and she is wearing a clothes and using gear that was designed, sold, and even possibly manufactured in Washington. After the hike is over, she stops at a small town gas station and restaurant on the park boundaries, a town fully sustaining itself on recreation since the decline of the logging industry. Finally, the hike is part of her summer adventure series, which makes her healthier, happier, and an advocate of her wild places. That summer hike was not just a great summer adventure for our hiker. Its also the just one part of a multifaceted spectrum that benefits the states citizens, economy, and public lands.