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
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.