Bass, the original, all-organic, Adirondack entertainment.
Across the nation, there are a wide variety of outdoor recreational options that remain available for a majority of the year as long as the weather remains fair, the beaches stay open and the rivers continue to flow.
Traditional consumptive activities such as hunting and fishing are regulated by predetermined seasons which are typically based on the biological cycles of the fish and game. Traditional, non-consumptive activities such as birding and wildlife watching are also dependent on the season, which are also based on mating cycles and migratory patterns.
The variety of outdoor recreational options remain as diverse as the vast national landscape, and while seasonal disparities often effect the availability of such pursuits as skiing, hunting, fishing, and a host of water-based activities; there are usually enough options to keep outdoor enthusiasts busy whether in the field, forest or on the water.
The most recent Outdoor Foundation Outdoor Participation Report, which was released in 2013 indicates that nearly half of the US population regularly took advantage of the outdoors during the previous year.
Although the overall participation rates remained roughly the same as previous industry reports, the number of participants involved in outdoor recreation activities proved to be the largest percentage ever recorded in the history of the report with nearly 142 million people getting out to enjoy the outdoors annually.
In the Adirondack region, where winter sports rule, there are an abundance of non-winter sports as well. Traditional consumptive pursuits such as hunting and fishing are complimented by non-consumptive activities birdwatching, paddlesports, mountain biking, trail running and more.
The list of available activities is seemingly endless, and adventurers continue to develop new and exciting outdoor opportunities, at almost every turn.
In 2012, American travelers took full advantage of the diversity and accessibility of our national infrastructure. In fact, nearly half, about 49.4 percent of all Americans reported they participated in some form of outdoor recreation last year. That equates to 141.9 million Americans.
The study reveals that while participation among children and young adults remained steady, participation among adolescents dropped.
Overall participation by this demographic group was dragged down by dramatically low participation among adolescent girls. This demographic group has steadily declined over the past ten years, which I expect has something to do with the burgeoning electronic entertainment that is omnipresent online and cellular.
Outdoor participation rates declined among adolescent girls. With just over half of adolescent girls participating in outdoor recreation. The participation rate was the lowest recorded since the report began in 2006.
Although the overall percentage of outdoor participants remains about the same as it was in 2011, the total number of participants grew by about 800,000, due to population growth.
Although over 13 million Americans began participating in outdoor activities during 2012, another 12 million stopped, resulting in a net gain of only one million total outdoor participants.
The number of total outdoor outings increased, reaching an all-time high, as Americans participated in over 12.4 billion outdoor excursions which signals a significant increase from the 11.5 billion excursions reported in the previous study.
Possibly the fastest growing outdoor pursuit was Adventure Racing which experienced the highest rate of growth over the five year period.
Adventure Racing may be responsible for a notable increase in the overall outdoor participation rate among adolescent boys ages 13 to 17 which has added three-percentage points in the past two years.
The study reveals that for youth who do not participate in outdoor recreation as young adults, the lack of time is a bigger barrier than a lack of interest.
The report also concluded that Introducing outdoor recreation and physical activities to youth early in life has a lasting effect, and the earlier the better.
Among adults who are currently regular outdoor participants, 75 percent had physical education and 42 percent enjoyed outdoor activities in elementary school.
Among females ages 16 to 20, indoor fitness is still the preferred physical activity, and it remains their most popular form of activity throughout life.
SUP is by far the fastest growing outdoor activity in the country, and it continues to enjoy vast participation nationwide.
SUP, which is short for or stand up paddleboardingalso enjoyed the highest percentage rate of first time participants with over 56 percent of participants trying it for the first time.
Overall percentages for Most popular top five outdoor pursuits based on participation rate for Americans ages 6+ include:
- Running, Jogging and Trail Running 19 percent of Americans, 53.2 million participants
- Freshwater, Saltwater and Fly Fishing with 16 percent of Americans, 46.0 million participants
- Road Biking, Mountain Biking and BMX with 15 percent of Americans, 42.3 million participants
- Car, Backyard and RV Camping with 13 percent of Americans, 38.0 million participants
- Hiking with 12 percent of Americans, 34.5 million participants
Most importantly for the Adirondack regional economy is a recent report which details annual expenditures according to their dedicated outdoor pursuits. According to the report, the list of activities accounts for annual spending directly related to the activities.
- Camping: $143 Billion
- Water Sports: $86 Billion
- Bicycling: $81 Billion
- Trail Sports: $81 Billion
- Off-Roading: $66 Billion
- Snow Sports: $53 Billion
- Motorcycling: $43 Billion
- Fishing: $35 Billion
- Wildlife Viewing: $33 Billion
- Hunting: $23 Billion
What does the report indicate for the Adirondack region in terms of future economic development opportunities? It appears to illustrate that the region is on track to attract a new breed of outdoor travelers if the recent demographics are considered.
It should be obvious to most that local trailheads are now busier than ever, as are the region’s lakes and rivers. With upcoming national races and rallies ranging from the Ironman USA event in Lake Placid to the annual Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George, the Adirondack region is a well established destination with a long history for accommodating traditional outdoor pursuits and current day adventures.
The region is ideally suited to accommodate nine out of the top ten most financially significant outdoor pursuits, with only limited resources dedicated to motorized ‘off -roading’, due to restrictions inherent in the ‘Forever Wild’ amendment which prohibits motorized use 0n most Forest Preserve lands.
The region’s renowned winter sports resources are considered to be world class, as evidenced by regular World Cups events, and the burgeoning interest in backcountry skiing.
The region has a solid reputation among enthusiasts of the top four pursuits on the list due to a century old tradition for accommodating campers and water sports enthusiasts, especially paddlers.
Currently, the North Country is particularly well situated to take advantage of a growing interest in mountain biking. Trail networks for mountain bikers have been expanded in many communities and the trend is likely to enhanced if the Rails to Trails effort is ever peacefully resolved.
It was an abundance of fish, fur, feathers and forests that historically stoked the region’s economy by drawing anglers and artists, birders and photographers, hunters and anglers, climbers and campers to the Adirondack region; and the Adirondack region remains one of the very few destinations capable of accommodating all 0f the top ten most popular outdoor activities in a single location.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.