Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

by Frederick Reimers, Outside Magazine

It’s no secret that our public lands are in trouble. The Forest Service has had its budget cut, for everything but firefighting, by 36 percent since 1995, and the Park Service is teetering atop a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Oregon is selling a popular state forest full of old growth to make ends meet, and a Colorado nonprofit estimates that it’ll take $24 million to repair trails on the state’s fourteeners alone. In light of diminishing resources, it’s time for hikers, bikers, and paddlers to become more like gun owners and take care of our outdoor spaces.

Every time someone buys a rifle or ammunition in the U.S., they pay an 11 percent tax (10 percent for handguns) that helps fund the states’ conservation ­efforts. In 2014 alone, those taxes pumped $760 million into wildlife management, ­property purchases, and other ­essential endeavors. Without that revenue, and additional funding from a similar tax on fishing gear, our nation’s wildlife would be in trouble, says Whit Fosburgh, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a Washington, D.C., hunting and angling group. The taxes, along with ­licenses, make up 80 percent of the funding for state fish and wildlife services. Fosburgh believes that other groups should be contributing as well. “It’s time for the general recreation community to ramp up their commitment to public lands,” says Fosburgh.

He’s right. Just like hunters and fishermen are required to, we should have to ante up for the sake of our forests, deserts, and mountains whenever we buy new gear. The easiest way to do that is probably to create excise taxes on items like skis, tents, and snowboards. Some have proposed that mountain bikers be required to buy a sticker that funds trail maintenance, just as dirt bikers and ATV enthusiasts are in many states. However we do it, our public lands need financial support from the people buying everything from RVs and teardrop trailers to boots and trekking poles. It’s time to pay to play.

No one wants more taxes. And the Outdoor Industry Association believes the companies it represents are overpaying already. The trade group was formed in 1989, in part to fight the “backpack tax” championed by then secretary of the interior Bruce Babbitt and others. The OIA argues that gear companies are already paying more than their share in import ­taxes, since their overseas-made goods are subject to a rate between 14 and 35 percent, while other industries—cars and electronics, for example—pay anywhere from 8 percent to nothing at all. (The outdoor industry got a late start lobbying against 1930s-era tariffs.) Those taxes add as much as $45 to the price of a light waterproof hiker.

“At a time when we are trying to encourage people to get outside, we don’t want addi­tional cost barriers,” says OIA executive dir­ec­tor Amy Roberts. Furthermore, how do you differentiate between a pack used for hiking and one for carrying textbooks? Or a rain shell worn on the Appalachian Trail versus one used to stay dry in Seattle?

That sort of distinction isn’t made for gun sales. The firearms tax is nearly the same whether you’re buying a .44 Magnum or a deer rifle; Dirty Harry supports wildlife studies to almost the same degree as Ted Nugent.

If the OIA doesn’t want additional taxes, it should throw its political weight behind an effort to earmark its existing import tariffs for public lands rather than the federal General Fund, which can be used to pay for everything from military drones to border walls.

Of course, the biggest hurdle is the Repub­lican-controlled Congress, which is ­looking to slash taxes across the board. This means that the best solution for states is to follow the lead of Minnesota, where, in 2008, ­voters approved a 0.375 percent general sales tax for conservation, recreation, and the arts. It has already contributed $1.8 billion to help fund projects like the 85-mile interconnected mountain-bike trail ­system in Duluth. “The Duluth system is a tourist draw,” says ­Luther Propst, an Interna­tional Mountain Bicycl­ing Association board member. “States that fund their natural resources are gaining a competitive advantage.”

Source: Put Your Money Where Your Fun Is | Outside Online

Finding Love In Durango

Mehall’s quirky advice to finding love in Durango—hold the pickles.

by Luke Mehall, The Climbing Zine 

To paraphrase my homey Chris Rock, all successful relationships are boring.

In perilous times like these, I turn to great activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and writers such as Bob Dylan for wisdom, but equally I turn to comedians. Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Kate McKinnon are the voices I need to affirm my own sanity.

This hit me while listening to some old Chris Rock standup about marriage. Now, you can always count on Chris Rock for a unique point of view, and he’s inspired me to write this: my tips for dating in 2017.

For a quick reference, I am 38 years old and have never been married. I guess you can say I’m a late bloomer – it took me until about 22 to learn how to talk to women without alcohol. So, you’ve got 16 years of dating experience here, and I’m going to give this information to you for free. Why should you trust me? I have a mustache, trust in the ‘stache people!

1. Here’s my first tip, something you won’t even find on pay-dating sites like Match: don’t drink on your first couple dates. Go out to coffee or tea. Take a walk in the park. Introduce your cats to one another. Alcohol makes people seem more interesting and attractive than they really are. Plus, you don’t find the real person after a few drinks. You find out who they wish they were! At a coffee shop, you can’t bullshit. Instead, you end up talking about your favorite books and your fascination for those Yay! Magnets. Boring shit like that. Alcohol makes boring people attractive and interesting, don’t fall for it.

2. Make fun of people. Real great relationships are based on what you dislike, not what you like. The world is an oyster full of weirdos waiting to be made fun of: the girl who wears her pajamas to the grocery store in the middle of the day. The small penis/big truck guys who rev their engines and speed past you on Main Ave. leaving you in a cloud of diesel smoke, only to stop right next to you at the next stoplight. These people need to be made fun of, and if you can’t do that with your significant other, you’re doomed.

Hell, you should even be making fun of yourselves: look in the mirror, you work three jobs just to pay rising rent costs and live in this town where you can’t afford to settle down and even buy a trailer. Move somewhere else, you damned fool. I hear Montrose is cheap. Start dating there.

3. Food. You must eat a meal early on and see what kind of eaters you are. The kale-eating vegan is never going to make it with the carnivore, not even if she or he, also likes kale. Personally I don’t like pickles. I find it offensive that every time you go get a burger or something they try to force a pickle on you. I mean I get it, some people like pickles, but 100 percent of people? Why do they assume the pickle?

How about chocolate? More people like chocolate than pickles. Plus, people do weird shit when they eat. Does he or she make that weird chewing noise? You know what I’m talking about. That noise could drive someone to murder.

But, if you both make that noise, maybe it might not bother you. Go eat some food people! Get right down to business, watch them chew, see if they treat the waiter with respect and if they tip. Because when it comes down to it, you can see into someone’s soul by how they treat people in the service industry, and because Durango is Durango, we’re all in the service industry! Not properly tipping is a cry for help.

4. To Tinder or not to Tinder? This one is in a grey area. On the one hand Tinder is the shallow- est form of communication known to the human race. It’s even worse than Facebook Messenger, or direct Twitter messages. Plus, in Durango, you already know half the people, so you’re swiping all over faces who you know but already dated, or don’t want to date, or already dated your best friend, and that kind of swiping does something to one’s soul.

However, I think Tinder is great if you’re not already meeting members of the opposite sex (or the same sex) who you’d like to have sex with on the day-to-day. I have friends who work for the Forest Service and such, and they aren’t meeting anyone but trees and rocks during the week. Do you really want to date a tree? Of course not, get on Tinder and start swiping.

5. Here’s something groundbreaking: be yourself and don’t take advice from friends. We’re all weird (again we live in Durango, why else would we be here?) and the truth is your significant other is going to see your funky self sooner or later. And, more importantly, they are going to have to love that weirdo. I believe there’s someone for everyone, and in the end we can’t change a thing about how we truly are.

For the latter part, I feel like the older you get, the more specific advice your married friends try to give you. In the end you probably won’t meet the love of your life on Tinder (but you might). You’ll more than likely meet that person at a restaurant, while you set your pickle aside, and she or he says, “Do you mind if I have your pickle?”

Source: Finding Love In Durango – Luke Mehall

On the Road to the Leadville 100 – Approaching Risk and Deflecting Doubt

Life is often lived in hindsight. In the moment of a big decision, it is often hard to fully understand all the factors that go into what you are thinking at the time. And it is nearly impossible to know what the impacts of any given decision will be until it plays out. You can research, plan, and try your best to predict all the possible outcomes. This is what one should do when taking risks. These risks are calculated, and not reckless. But with any big decision, there will be uncertainty and doubt.

I signed up for the Leadville 100 trail run.  Yes, I did this!  I was able to secure a spot in this race by signing up for one of the limited training packages, which also means I am working with a running coach for the first time in my life.  For those who may be unfamiliar, the Leadville 100 trail race entails 100 miles of beautiful, extreme trails in the mountains of Colorado, from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet and a total of more than 18,000 feet of climbing – all in a 30-hour time frame or less. It is one of the absolute classic races of ultra-running. It is hands-down one of the biggest challenges I will be taking on in my running life, if not my life in general, so far. Did I agonize over this decision for days on end before I did this? No, I did not. Did I fail to think this through before I did this? No, I did not.  What I did do was make a conscious decision to approach risk, as opposed to deflect risk. So much of truly living, to me, is exactly that, approaching risk versus deflecting risk.

To me, approaching risk often looks like this: I get an idea. I get really excited about this idea (probably over-excited) and convince myself it is a good idea. I set a plan in action of how to implement or set on the road to making the idea actually happen.

Basically, when approaching risk, I decide to live my ideas.

Part of approaching risk is deflecting doubt. When the doubts are internal, I tend to try to talk to someone who can provide me with real-life experience on the matter. I often seek out someone I know who trusts my decisions and thinks positively.  And someone who really knows me and supports my BIG ideas. When the doubts are external, I recognize that it might be easier for some to deflect risk.  In most of the “unconventional” challenges I have taken on in my life, the majority of the responses have gone something like, “I would never do that ….How are you going to make that work?” In the case of the Leadville 100, typical reactions also include “You’re nuts” and “That sounds awful.”

These responses surprise me because challenges are exciting! And I can think of less responsible things than taking on challenges and following a passion through. In any event, anyone can do anything for a day or two! Remember, these risks are calculated, and not reckless. I clearly see the value in encouraging those taking calculated risks in our world…just the other day my friend said to me, “If anyone can conquer the unconquerable it is you!”  The outcome will remain unknown until the race, but I certainly appreciate such encouragement over the alternative.

The one thing you can never predict when approaching risk is the reality of how you are going to feel. This risk, the unpredictability of how you are going to feel, is the true risk… yet the one that holds the most potential for growth and rewards. All of the other risks are just doubts that can be resolved one way or the other.

I am sure the road to the Leadville 100 will be a true range of experience, both positive and not so positive.  The perfect opportunity to…

Approach risk.  Deflect doubt.  Live my ideas.

Ilene Bloom is an evolving ultra-runner, mother and lawyer who lives in Denver. In conjunction with training for the Leadville 100, she is raising money for the American Cancer Society at this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/leadville-trail-100-run-for-cancer/fundraiser/ilenebloom.  If you have any questions or thoughts about this article, Ilene can be reached at ilenebloom@hotmail.com.

If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

by Yvon Chouinard, for The Los Angeles Times

Every American citizen owns stock in 640 million acres of federal public lands. We hire public servants to manage our precious assets for maximum return. For decades, we’ve taken these sizable holdings for granted, assuming they’re in good hands.

But we’ve let the fossil fuel industry into the boardroom. We’re allowing gas and mining companies to boss around our elected officials.

 

Rather than harness the power of public lands for maximum benefit, some politicians on the right — including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — are trying to repeal laws that safeguard ecologically vulnerable landscapes. They’re working to roll back protections on some of our most special wild places, including Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in my home state of Maine. And they are pushing to transfer ownership of federal lands to states.

What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen?

They cloak all this in an argument for states’ rights, but that’s baloney. What right do the states have to assert control over land owned by every American citizen? Selling public lands has been item No. 1 on Big Oil’s agenda for a long time. It’s a theft of valuable property owned by all of us.

Public lands already get used for drilling and mining and grazing and other kinds of development, which makes good sense. But some places are simply too exceptional to put at risk. That’s why both political parties have long placed trust in our federal agencies to make appropriate decisions about the best use for our lands. It’s not a perfect system, but it works pretty well.

These agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, take into account the input of citizens, along with scientific and economic data, to provide a wide range of benefits from public lands.

It’s outrageous that politicians would take away this oversight. But just as bad, these supposedly business-minded politicians can’t read a simple balance sheet.

America’s public lands perform best when protected for recreation. In fact, the business of outdoor recreation, which relies heavily on public lands, supports more jobs (6.1 million) than oil, natural gas and mining combined. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation annually ($646 billion) than on electronics, pharmaceuticals or automobiles.

Some argue that oil and gas jobs would multiply if more lands were opened for development, but in reality, those jobs are being replaced by robots. Because of automation, between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs after prices fell a few years ago still can’t find work, even as prices and production surge again. Those jobs have largely moved on to new industries, such as renewable energy. (Would you believe it?)

You can’t outsource the jobs of workers operating a roadside motel near a national park or automate the job of a local river guide in one of rural America’s many wilderness gateway towns. Public lands power a sustainable, homegrown economy. From 2008 to 2011, during the height of the recession, the outdoor industry grew 5% every year.

Areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands, a recent study shows. In the 22 years since the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah was declared a national monument, jobs grew by 38% in two neighboring counties.

Some lawmakers are acting far outside the interests of the public land owners they were elected to serve. In the corporate world, we’d show them the door immediately. Of course, that’s not how our government actually works.

Some 91% of Westerners agree that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal lands are essential to their state’s economic prosperity, but Americans who support protecting public lands are badly splintered. Hunters and anglers love and value our public lands, but the “hook and bullet” crowd scares off environmentalists and some businesspeople. Environmentalists love and value our public lands, but hardcore activists scare off most businesspeople and some hunters and anglers. Businesspeople love and value our public lands, but lots of folks get skeptical when corporations are involved in advocacy.

We need to work together to protect our public lands. We all value access to wild places where our air, water and wildlife are safe from pollution and development. We all benefit from the enormous economy generated by the conservation of our lands. And we all hate getting ripped off by hucksters posing as smart businesspeople, threatening not just our economy but our American heritage as well.

Let’s drop the discord, start acting like owners and demand that our elected representatives start delivering the value we deserve.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.

Source: If America’s public lands were a business, the GOP would be bungling the balance sheet – LA Times

Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders.

by Marc Peruzzi, Outside Magazine

Cognitive behavioral therapists call it “mind reading.” You show up at a new group ride, ski tour with recent friends, or [insert your favorite pursuit here, but with strangers], convinced that your soon-to-be mates are judging you harshly. “I mean, look at the way he’s putting his avalanche transceiver over his midweight. What a worthless tool of a person. In the event of a burial, let’s all agree not to dig him out.”

This type of anxiety is common. Unless you’re blissfully un-self-aware thanks to an unpresidented [sic] case of presidential narcissistic personality disorder, you too might find yourself suffering from Anxious Recreation Syndrome (ARSe). Perhaps you’re familiar with symptoms such as dropphobia (fear of getting shelled), nerdphobia (fear of not knowing how to set up your mountain bike suspension), or the debilitating poseurphobia (fear of forgetting how to tie an improved fisherman’s knot during an active hatch). Whoops, I just pissed my waders. An indiscriminate neurosis, ARSe affects skiers, hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers, and backpackers in equal numbers. Newbies agonize over it until their bowels blow; so too with veteran outdoor athletes, despite their coiffed smugness.

Take it from a longtime ARSe sufferer like me. A chronic self-flagellator, the best example of me beating myself up quite literally involves me beating myself up.

This was 15 winters ago, in the Utah backcountry. While reporting a story, I toured with a famed local backcountry skier and avalanche observer named Bob Athey. Bob has husky eyes and a Gandalf beard, and he was and is one of the strongest ski tourers in the Wasatch. Naturally, I brought my heavy alpine boots and skis equipped with (stupid heavy) alpine-style touring bindings. One stale granola bar would sustain me for the 6,000-vertical-foot day of climbing.

Unprepared for the nearly vertical skin tracks of the Wasatch, I struggled to hang as Bob giant-stepped his way up cornices and ridges so steep that I was self-arresting with each tenuous step. I was cold, calorie starved, and gassed to the point of shaking, but somehow I managed to keep Bob from seeing me wallow.

On our final summit, my frozen gloved hand slipped from my climbing skin in mid-tug…and I punched myself hard in the nose. For ten seconds, blood fire hosed from both nostrils down my Gore-Tex shell, where it froze upon contact in the single-digit temps. Gripped by ARSe, I quickly turned my back to Bob and, grabbing the shell at the hem, snapped the hemoglobin slushie into the atmosphere.

In hindsight, my ability to make it sleet blood would have made for a nice moment of ridgeline levity. But ARSe makes you a bore. When you spend too much time inside your own head, you’re brushing with a metaphysical theory known as solipsism. A lighter, less-filling form of nihilism, solipsists deny the existence of other beings. Both are asshole belief systems, but solipsists are quieter about it. What’s the point in talking when only you exist?

I still flirt with ARSe-induced solipsism today when cycling in big groups. A half-dozen times a year, I roll up to a scary biweekly ride called the Bustop. Nobody organizes this unsanctioned street race, which starts and finishes at a strip club of the same name. And typically, nobody I know is there. It doesn’t help my confidence that I’m undersized compared with the powerful sprinters and rouleurs who show up to max their wattage on the flatter circuits.

In the tense moments before we depart, the mind reading sets in: Oh great, here comes the former Irish National Champion who is at least ten years older than I am but showing no signs of slowing down. He’s probably bummed to see a hack like me here. Is that an entire team rolling in? They’re going to break me to pieces. Are those strippers? I must look like a total dork. What am I doing here? Fading to black in the throws of ARSe, I solipsist up and go mute.

What a worthless tool of a person I can be. All that anxiety is for naught. I learned to Nordic skate ski in my late 30s surrounded by statuesque European athletes from the university. One of the coaches once skied up behind me when I was clearly struggling. Mind reading again, I thought he was going to scream, “Track!” demanding that I pull over, but instead he courteously offered some helpful pointers. On that Wasatch tour, Bob Athey taught me how to clear ice from the frozen glue of my climbing skins and execute a safe ski cut in an avalanche-starting zone. When I see him at trade shows, he always invites me out to ski again. And the Irish National Champion? He broke through my cone of silence, too.

Two summers back, the Bustop peloton was strung out, battling a stout headwind up a false flat. With an echelon running diagonally across the full width of the road, I was the odd man out, dangling and exposed on the windward side of a line of riders. Too weak to chase down the small pack ahead and a minute away from getting jettisoned off the back, I was clearly floundering. That’s when the Irishman looked askance at me and, in a perfect brogue, said, “You’re a wee fellah like me, but you’re doin’ all the work.” He then slotted out of his position in line and invited me in before effortlessly closing the gap on the leeward side of the echelon. Last summer, he taught me what he calls the “suicide move” to stay connected to the pack in crosswinds and attacks. Next summer, I’ll catch his name.

Like most anxiety, recreational anxiety is self-inflicted. If we could actually read minds, we’d realize everyone is happy to share the world with us.

Unless you’re talking resort skiing, that is. All the nihilists on the chairlift are ridiculing you. That’s a given. Don’t be a dumb ARSe.

Source: Anxious Recreation Syndrome Is Real | Outside Online

Gratitude – Joe Grant ponders the concept of gratitude during a morning run

I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

by Joe Grant, special to irunfar.com

We have had a long mild stretch of unseasonably warm weather in Gold Hill, Colorado, allowing me to run much more than I typically would at this time of year. Most of the roads around town and the trails down in Boulder have been clear of snow and ice. I have been grateful for the clement conditions as some persistent nerve damage in my wrist has limited my physical activity primarily to running.

I sustained the injury during the Arizona Trail Race last April, a 750-mile mountain-bike race across Arizona. The severity of the pain has fluctuated from manageable, to nearly non-existent, to feeling as if my wrist was completely broken.

About a month ago, I severely re-tweaked it for the nth time, which triggered a negative psychological response far greater than the physical discomfort. The issue, I felt, was close to being resolved, but then due to a silly mishap, I was back to square one.

For some reason, I found it particularly challenging to take my focus off of what I could not do, instead of being thankful for what my body actually could do. I could run, and really that should be enough. Yet, because of the season, I wanted to ski and climb to take a break from all the pounding. My focus was more on the activities rather than contentment with just being in the mountains.

When healthy, as fitness and ability improve, there is a tendency to become too goal-oriented and perhaps overlook some of the more essential reasons of why it is worth being outside in the first place. Nature is part of us and we are fully part of nature.

Beyond stating the obvious, on a deeper level, this realization brings forth a sense of contentment, grounding, and humility–all of which are important ingredients to the healing process.

As I set off on my run today, I go by the school where the kids are piling into the classroom. There is yelling and laughter, a mix of the excitement and innocence that comes to life every morning in the playground This is a good way to set the tone as I enter my own world of play.

The neighbor on the corner is smoking a pipe on his porch, easing into the day. I do not smoke, but enjoy the aroma of tobacco. There is also a real sense of tranquility in his process that I can appreciate. A couple of fox dart across the road, playfully teasing my dog. Bella is not sure what to do, to chase or flee? She stands frozen in place, the hair on her back raised. Before she has time to engage, they have vanished into the woods.

I love the fox–their whimsical character, that twinkle in their eye, always with an air of mischief. Much like the kids, their whole demeanor reminds me to stay lighthearted, to not take myself too seriously.

I plummet down the steep trail, opening up my stride, feeling loose, relaxed.

I can hear dog’s bell, but lose sight of her. She takes a shortcut, appears out of the trees ahead, charging. We hop the creek in unison and begin to climb. She buries me with ease up the hill with her four little legs. Pausing, she looks back at the heavy-breathing ape, tail wagging. She is smiling, I swear.

It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, to feel defeated by an injury or an obstacle and lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead of feeling bogged down by my limitations, I am deeply grateful for what I can do. With the right perspective there are no dead ends, only possibilities.

As I reach the top of the climb, I stop at the overlook above town. The Indian Peaks line the horizon, with the broad, flat summit of Longs Peak capping the range to the northwest.

The mountains speak to a deeper place in my heart, rather than just feed my physical needs. We have so much to be thankful for.

Source: Gratitude

Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout 

by Molly Absolon, Jackson Hole News & Guide

I’ve never seen as many people on the Glory boot track as I saw this past weekend. An unbroken line of hikers strung down the mountainside, and the parking lot overflowed with vehicles. The numbers drove home just how many outdoor recreationists there are these days.

I tried to come up with a guess-timate on just how much money each of us carried or wore up the track. Let’s say our skis cost $700 and our boots were $500. Dynafit or a comparable pair of light alpine touring bindings run anywhere from $300 to more than $500, so let’s just say $350 is a reasonable average. Backpacks cost around $100. Ski pants $150. Jackets $200. I could keep going but don’t really need to. My point is clear. Each of us has at least a couple thousand dollars invested in our backcountry ski getup, and there were hundreds of us out there on this weekend. So just for fun let’s say 500 people climbed Glory. If each of us had spent $2,000 on our gear that’s $1 million total, and I’d guess that’s an underestimate.

The point is that outdoor recreation is big business. To illustrate that look at the decision by the Outdoor Retailers Show to pull out of Salt Lake City after 20 years in Utah. The decision will cost Salt Lake City $45 million in lost revenue. That’s a big blow, and that’s the point. The Outdoor Industry Association wants to throw its weight around. After years of being pushed aside by the louder voices and deeper pockets of oil and gas, coal and other extractive industries, the outdoor industry now thinks it has grown enough to deserve a seat at the table when it comes to deciding the future of our public lands.

The fact of the matter is that it’s about time the outdoor recreation industry stepped up and took a stand on issues affecting the lands on which we pursue our sports. I used to be the communications manager for a conservation group in Wyoming. We were focused on protecting the Wyoming Range from oil and gas leasing at that time. The voice that had the most power for conservationists at the bargaining table was that of the “hook and bullet” crowd. Hunters and anglers were respected and listened to. Why? Because hunters and anglers are willing to pay to play. In fact they have contributed more than $300 million to federal coffers through self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment. Those dollars have been used to help fund wildlife conservation efforts. They’ve also given the hook and bullet crowd credibility and clout.

Outdoor recreationists don’t have that same clout though our numbers are growing exponentially. I don’t have any statistics to back up that observation, but all of us who’ve lived in the area more than five years have anecdotal evidence of the growth. Yet despite this increase you don’t see us at the bargaining table when it comes to federal land management decisions. But we should be, especially in the Jackson area, where outdoor recreation is ingrained in our psyche.

Forrest McCarthy has been thinking about this issue a lot. We got into this topic on a skin track one day and subsequently he has shared background information on one potential solution: a 1 percent excise tax on outdoor equipment and clothing that would be set aside for conservation.

The so-called backpack tax is not a new idea, nor is it Forrest’s, but he’s a fan. It was first proposed in the 1990s, but the Outdoor Industry Association shot it down. McCarthy says that the industry’s complaints about the tax were legitimate, but he disagrees with their decision to kill rather than reform it. He believes we need to be paying our way like hunters and anglers and motorized recreationists (who pay an excise tax on gas that is used to support motorized trails). Because these groups pay into the system they get something in return. Right now outdoor recreationists aren’t really paying into the system, and it shows. We don’t get a lot of respect from our government so our voices often go unheard and our needs unmet.

You can argue that all of us already pay taxes on our gear, and we do. There are sales taxes and import tariffs on outdoor gear, but those taxes go into the general fund and don’t have any direct effect on conservation or public lands. We also pay fees for a variety of things like entering a national park or getting a permit to float a river, but hunters, anglers and motorized recreationists pay user fees, too, so you can’t really count them. It’s not like we’re doing anything extra for the lands we love.

People also criticize the backpack tax because it makes gear more expensive and, therefore, less affordable for any but the rich elite. I understand that argument to an extent, but don’t think it holds water in the long run. If you are paying an extra 1 percent on your $700 skis, that’s $7. That’s not going to make or break your decision to make that purchase. Furthermore, used gear would not be taxed and, therefore, would continue to be an option for people who can’t afford top-of-the-line equipment.

Finally, in the ’90s, when the backpack tax was first shot down, the outdoor industry argued that it included items that weren’t used for outdoor recreation. Again, this argument seems like one that can be surmounted with a little thought. After all, most of us know the difference between a backpack intended for books and one you use for skiing.

I think we need to put our money where our mouth is. I applaud the decision to pull the OR show out of Salt Lake, although it’s unfortunate that businesses in the area will suffer. But that’s the way sanctions work. They are meant to hurt. They are meant to make a change. Taxes also hurt. No one likes to give more money to the federal government, but if we want to protect the lands that give us joy and freedom, we should be willing to pay.

Source: Let’s tax our stuff — and spend it on clout – Jackson Hole News&Guide: Outdoors Snow Survey

Earth to Congress — stop stealing our land! 

“Public lands are under attack in a way they haven’t been before,” Alex Honnold said to me last weekend. “There’s a realistic threat against 60 percent of our climbing areas. It’s time to start paying attention.”

by Chris Weidner, special to The Daily Camera

“Public lands are under attack in a way they haven’t been before,” Alex Honnold said to me last weekend. “There’s a realistic threat against 60 percent of our climbing areas. It’s time to start paying attention.”

Honnold, famous for his free-solo climbing, is an outspoken defender of public land.

The 60 percent he refers to is the amount of American climbing — crags and mountains — that’s on public land.

To be clear, public land is federal land. It’s your land.

 

It’s crucial to understand that public land has never been owned by anyone other than the federal government. Don’t be fooled by media headlines such as, “Western states demand feds return public land” (foxnews.com) or “State of Utah to feds: Give us our land back!” (wnd.com).

This notion of “giving land back to the states” is false because the land has never belonged to the states. Nevertheless, this is a common way for some lawmakers and the media to frame this issue, which has direct consequences for every American who gets outside.

The reason land ownership is critical is once federal land is transferred to states, it can be used however they want.

“When a state owns land, it no longer belongs to the public,” says protectourpublicland.org. “It can be sold off, developed, exploited or turned into private real estate. States have no obligation to involve the public in these decisions.”

And now, for the first time ever, the transfer of public lands to states is on the Republican agenda.

“The attacks on public lands are multi-pronged and often not very obvious,” said Erik Murdock, policy director for the Access Fund.

Among them are repealed environmental regulations, changed congressional rules to ease land transfers, the occupation of high-level management positions by people who oppose public lands, and many more.

“The fact that it’s part of the official GOP platform is unprecedented and very alarming,” Honnold said. “It basically means that one half of our government has made it their position to dismantle a 100-year legacy of conservation.”

The ramifications of this policy, combined with our current Congress, certainly affect climbers. More importantly, they affect everyone who enjoys open spaces.

The good news is the outdoor industry is pushing back in a tangible way.

On Feb. 8, outsideonline.com published an article that said, “Utah is a leader in the movement to transfer federal lands to the states, which concerns adventurers and sportsmen who believe those lands will be compromised or sold off entirely to development.”

Utah’s Green River winds through Labyrinth Canyon en route to its confluence with the Colorado River. (Chris Weidner / For the Camera)
In response, outdoor company Patagonia refused to attend the biannual Outdoor Retailer trade show (OR) if it continued to take place in Salt Lake City.

This was huge news.

Especially for climbers and climbing-related companies, for whom the trade shows are by far the largest industry meetings of the year. It’s estimated that OR brings 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City annually.

Since Patagonia pulled out of OR, other top brands followed suit. And last week, the Outdoor Industry Alliance took a powerful stance by refusing to consider Salt Lake City, which has hosted OR for 20 years, as a future trade show location.

Denver is now a likely candidate for OR. In fact, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News ran half-page ads on Feb. 15 placed by Conservation Colorado that read, “We have stronger beer. We have taller peaks. We have higher recreation. But most of all, we love our public lands.”

Our voices are being heard, but we must stay informed and continue to make noise. There will be countless battles for our land, like the one that played out in a Utah town hall meeting Feb. 9.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, from Utah, had proposed a public land sell-off, but the overwhelming public response (more than 1,000 constituents protested) to his bill, in large part, led to Chaffetz pulling it off the table.

“This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue that affects our shared freedoms,” reads “An Open Letter To America,” posted last month by The North Face.

“Public lands should remain in public hands.”

Contact Chris Weidner at cweidner8@gmail.com

Here’s what you can do:

1. Contact your representatives (Congress votes on this issue continually) and make it clear how much you value your land.

2. Express your opinions respectfully on social media, by phone and in person.

3. Vote for political candidates who protect public lands.

4. Join and/or donate to the Access Fund at accessfund.org/join-or-give

Source: Chris Weidner: Earth to Congress — stop stealing our land! – Boulder Daily Camera

Opinion: ‘Skiing’ Was the Magazine the Sport Deserved | Outside Online

My all-time favorite Skiing cover was a shot of a soaring hippie in skin-tight stretch pants splayed out against a cobalt sky in a joyous backscratcher. We made a T-shirt out of it. The pages were filled with images of beautiful women in braids snaking down mogul fields or basking in the sun in bikini tops. The ads featured western-looking dudes wearing nonironic mustaches, leaning against Chevrolet Impalas with their skis or enjoying peppermint schnapps from bota bags.

The vertical ceased print publication this winter, after decades of great story after great story.

By Marc Peruzzi, Outside Magazine

After nearly 70 years of publishing, Skiing magazine printed its final issue this winter—ultimately consumed by its milquetoast longtime sister title, the bigger and marginally more profitable Ski magazine.

If you’re confused about the difference between Ski and Skiing magazines and why a series of publishing houses would have bothered carrying both titles for the past 20-plus years, you’re not alone. I was the editor of Skiing magazine for six years, in the early 2000s, and even I was never clear on the reasoning. But for most of its long history, Skiing offered a unique and, at times, vital take on the sport.

Like many vertical titles, Skiing started out as a glorified regional newsletter for skiing purists interested less in the pomp and luxuries of the early days of the sport than in just getting out and ripping around in wool pants and leather boots. The magazine was big on instruction (the sport was young), gear, and new places to ski, of which there were legion in the years after World War II, as 10th Mountain Division troops returned from Europe and pioneered the West and hundreds of local hills sprang back to life in the Northeast.

In the winters that followed, Ski (still a separately owned rival at that time) focused on already stodgy ski racing and stuffy resorts, while Skiing focused on everyday skiers. The positioning nicely set up Skiing as a mouthpiece for what came next: the sport’s first truly American movement (as opposed to European-influenced racing), the Hot Dog era of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As hair got longer in the Age of Aquarius, skis got shorter and the sport got fun. My all-time favorite Skiing cover was a shot of a soaring hippie in skin-tight stretch pants splayed out against a cobalt sky in a joyous backscratcher. We made a T-shirt out of it. The pages were filled with images of beautiful women in braids snaking down mogul fields or basking in the sun in bikini tops. The ads featured western-looking dudes wearing nonironic mustaches, leaning against Chevrolet Impalas with their skis or enjoying peppermint schnapps from bota bags. General advertisers wanted to be affiliated with the sensual, vibrant, rebellious, athletic-for-athleticism’s-sake movement as seen through the pages of Skiing. The sport, and the magazine, boomed. I still see one of Skiing’s ad reps from that golden era—he retired to Baja off the ad revenues he made, but he summers in Colorado. He and his mustache drive around Baja in a golf cart packed with ice-cold beers.

My favorite Skiing story from the early 1970s was written by Bob Woodward (the ski writer and the one-time mayor of Bend, Oregon, not the Watergate reporter). Neither flowery nor tension-riddled, the narrative simply documented Woodward’s extended road trip as a penniless ski bum wandering from resort to resort, sleeping in his truck, discovering new places to ski, and meeting kindred spirits. That story, and the magazine, captured what it was to be a skier in that moment in time. That’s not easy to do.

But skiing trends come and go, and the Hot Dog movement faded like your grandfather’s padded sweater. Powder skiing was the next craze, captured almost spiritually by Powder magazine in its early years. Blissfully, that subset never died. The extreme skiing of the 1980s followed, but the films of Greg Stump captured that movement better than any one print title. Then snowboarding came along, and the New York Times went so far as to say the sport of skiing was dead. (Yeah, and the Gray Lady also predicted Hillary would trounce the Mango-in-Chief.) For a time, Freeskier magazine rode a youthful wave of park and pipe skiers borne out of the demise of mogul skiing, but freeskiing is now a niche of a niche sport. Skiing participation has flatlined for 20 years. Snowboarding, sadly, is in decline. Backcountry skiing has the energy now, but its high cost of entry—dying in an avalanche—will meter participation as the larger sport awaits the next revolution.

Over the decades, Skiing’s relevance rose and fell with the trends and the times, but what ultimately killed it was its own success. As the sport of skiing lost its appeal to general advertisers in the late 1980s and skiing participation fell in the early 1990s, the gravy days ended, but the corporations that owned Ski and Skiing couldn’t let go. In their attempt to regain those car and booze ad buyers, they did what most mainstream magazines do: artificially inflated their circulations. Sign up for a coin-operated ski race or buy a ski pass to Vail, and you wouldn’t get charged for Skiing magazine again. Paid subscribers left, the general ads never came back, and now Facebook’s easily quantifiable ROI (return on investment) is taking a mortal swipe at what remains of the sort of brand building that magazines of all types were built on. It didn’t help that Bonnier Corporation, the multinational prior owner of Skiing before current owner AIM Media, stopped printing Skiing for a season in some reckless experiment in so-called desktop publishing.

Source: Opinion: ‘Skiing’ Was the Magazine the Sport Deserved | Outside Online

Wind, You Jerk

Let me tell you about a time I was on a one-way bike ride that went the opposite way, into the wind

by Brendan Leonard, semi-rad.com

My friend Jayson and I were out trail running on Saturday, for long stretches exposed to a 50 mph wind. It was the kind of wind that blows snot out of your nose, catches your lips and blows air into one of your cheeks so it flaps, and occasionally, gusts up to 60 or 70 mph and pushes you off the trail. It was so loud, we hardly talked for the last seven miles of our run. At one point, Jayson yelled, “Ah wind, my favorite element.” I laughed, and then went back to concentrating on leaning hard into the wind while we ran, like a couple of idiots whose mothers never taught them to come in out of the rain.

Wind can be an interesting thing, and by “interesting thing,” I mean “kind of an asshole sometimes.” Yes, it’s wonderful as a source of renewable energy and also helped enable boat travel possible a long time ago, but in the out-of-doors, it can be no fun at all. Especially in the wintertime.

When I first met my friend Aaron about ten years ago, we just happened upon each other while snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, and he decided to join us in hiking to the top of Flattop Mountain. About a half-mile from the summit, the wind was blowing straight at us over the rocks, picking up snow and blasting it into any uncovered skin areas at about 40 mph. Aaron shouted, “That lets you know you’re alive!” I agreed, also silently adding that it hurts your face kind of. Aaron and I became good friends because sometimes in your life you apparently need other people who like to do painful things on the weekends.

Source: Wind, You Jerk – semi-rad.com