Wildfires Limit Outdoor Travel and Activity in the West


One of the things Katherine Lee loves about Moscow, Idaho, where she lives, is the trails 10 minutes away. He visits with family or friends several days a week to go hiking or mountain biking, or to have hiking meetings with colleagues.

But the trails have been closed for weeks this summer to reduce the risk. Forest fires Burning across the Pacific Northwest.

As an assistant professor at the university, Dr. “Climate change is slowly starting to realize itself, but this year many of us said, ‘Climate change has come,'” Lee said. University of Idaho Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology considers how to use natural resources more sustainably.

Across the West of America, fires have become larger and more frequent over the past few years, threatening the lives and livelihoods of the people who live there, and disrupting the plans of many visitors who flock to the area for outdoor recreation, spectacular views and scenery. clean waters.

Methow Valley, Wash., all seasons Sun Mountain Villa The property evacuated guests on July 22 due to growing concern about wildfires. It was a hit for a tourism-dependent community still affected by the effects of the pandemic.

“It was pretty devastating for us to watch this amazing work as a result of recovering from Covid and the fires shut everything down,” said Eric Christenson, sales and marketing manager of the facility.

This summer’s fires also disrupted the use of public lands, streams and recreation areas. Washington State Department of Natural Resources Closed most of the land it manages in Julyincluding protected areas, community forests, trails and campgrounds. Due to the extreme heat in Montana, some fishing streams were closed and activities were restricted. The Dixie fire in California, the largest in the United States this year, burns hundreds of thousands of acres and razed the town of Greenville, Northern California this week.

Even Hawaii is struggling with a wave of wildfires. A brush fire on the Big Island More than 40,000 acres burned weekend and caused forced evictions.

“There used to be things like this,” said Anne Hedges, director of policy and legislative affairs in the United States. Montana Environmental Information Center. “Now it feels like once every two years. At some point, you’re going to make people choose to go elsewhere.”

Outdoor recreation is an important part of the American West economy and is the central attraction for visitors. In 2018, Outdoor Industry Association estimates that the industry generates $51 billion in consumer spending each year and creates approximately 451,000 jobs in the Pacific Northwest.

Kristina Dahl, a California-based climate scientist, Association of Concerned ScientistsTravellers may need to consider fire season when planning their trip, as they will be making hurricane season in the Caribbean, a future sustainability advocacy group said.

In Southern Oregon, where Bootleg Fire burned more than 400,000 acres, the effects of climate change were “widespread,” he said. Climate Impacts Research Consortium and a professor at Oregon State University. “Basically any element of the entertainment industry – people going river rafting, kayaking or fishing” is affected.

“It sounds like a matter of ‘when’ to hit a particular industry heavily, as opposed to ‘if’ it will hit a particular industry,” he added.

The impact of current fires is uneven in Western states. Tourism boards have tried to convey this to potential visitors who might be deterred by news reports.

Spokesperson Allison Keeney Travel OregonThe state’s tourism commission said that “bushfires in one location usually have no impact other than a limited area and rarely cause major travel disruptions. Such is the case with fires currently occurring in remote wilderness areas.” He added that the state tools applied visitors can use it to monitor air quality before or during their stay.

In Washington, the scenic Walla Walla Valley “has seen little, if any, impact on tourism from the smoke associated with the fires,” said Justin Yax, spokesperson for the area’s tourism board.

“If anything, the Walla Walla Valley has seen a surge in visits in recent years as other popular wine regions have grappled with the effects of wildfires and smog,” he said, referring to California’s Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Barbara counties. years have been struck with fire.

But in the Methow Valley, which is also a tourism-dependent region, two nearby fires have caused evacuations in several towns. The mayor of Winthrop, Wash., called the fires “end of season event for tourismAt a community meeting in July.

After that Sun Mountain Villa Evacuating existing guests, the property called to encourage future reservations to rebook for later in the year and has blacked out availability online through August 31. The facility is temporarily closed.

Maria Caputo, manager of Lamplighter Cabin & Suites in the state’s capital, Helena, Montana, said a large number of guests have called this month to cancel their reservations due to smoke.

“We’re honest with them,” said Miss Caputo. “I don’t want people to come here and have unhealthy conditions for breathing or anything.”

Ms. Caputo added that those who did were surprised: The smoke is keeping most people inside, and the nearby mountains are no longer visible. “I don’t think they realized how serious the fires were and how smoky it was until they got here or went inside,” said Ms. Caputo.

Some tourism officials say that visitors are not afraid of the fires. led by Jeremy Sage, University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation ResearchHe said visitors were “resilient” and changed their plans based on air quality and smog conditions. He adds that this is also a matter of educating tourists about the expanse of the state and other places they can visit in Montana.

Climate scientist Dr. The fires, smoke and extreme temperatures could also extend beyond the wilderness, Dahl said. The temperature can affect places like Disneyland, which attracts large numbers of tourists each year and is unbearably hot. And a trip to enjoy the view from the Golden Gate Bridge can be ruined by smog conditions.

Dr. Dahl added that the public needs to partially change their understanding of what it means to vacation outdoors or what the outdoors should look like. For example, California’s dense forests are the result of decades of firefighting.

“We built it right up to the edge of the national forest,” he said, which makes things like the campfire, which is the core of the camping experience, increasingly risky.

Oregon’s Dr. Fleishman agrees. Because people are dispersed into less urban areas, people have a better chance of creating sparks that start fires, “because it’s just something people and human infrastructure do,” he said.

Movie directed by Amy Snover Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington“We are currently walking on a path that threatens the natural environment,” he said. “This is one option we have to get rid of, because our future has not been written yet,” he said.

He added that when it comes to nature and natural resources, people need to think about how much you love it and what it means to you, and be serious about protecting your loved ones.


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