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Summit on the Outdoors held for third year by Valdez Adventure Alliance

Potential future of outdoor recreation leaves attendees optimistic organizer says


September 19, 2018

The Valdez Adventure Alliance last week successfully hosted its third summit in Valdez Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors.

The event, which ran Sept. 12-13 and attracted leadership from as far away as Washington, DC, appears to have tapped into a market that has always been in Alaska, but whose time may have finally arrived.

Lee Hart, the Executive Director of the Valdez Adventure Alliance, organized much of the event and exceeded her expectations.

"We had incredibly productive conversations with influencers in state and federal government," Hart said in an e-mail.

For some, such as Paul Nylund who works as a senior planner and Global Information System technician for the City of Valdez, the confluence brought a lot of hope to him.

"Working at the city level this helped me to quantify what the state and federal governments are doing with outdoor recreation," Nylund said in a telephonic interview. "It is good to see how all of this is taken place at a larger scale."

The data presented also had significant importance to Nylund, since it is the first time the federal government is measuring outdoor recreation as a sector of the economy.

"I see a good benefit of not having an industry group doing the analysis," Nylund said. "This gives me more data to look at in the future when planning."

Hart believes that the most impactful part of the confluence was not just the data and how things are working at higher levels of government, but also networking opportunities for participants.

"Connections made at the local, state, and federal level for the good of our community were important," Hart said. "Also, of course, the good of our state and to strengthen the outdoor recreation economy with creating jobs, business opportunities and healthier lifestyles."

Lucas Brown, who co-founded "Geeks in the Woods" with his twin - also named Lee - also saw a lot of value in how the confluence approached healthier living and a better community.

"Outdoor recreation not only provides economic opportunities, but is the fabric that brings communities and industries together," Brown said in an e-mail. "I was surprised to understand how vital outdoor recreation is to attracting talent at our local Providence Valdez Medical Center."

For Brown - and many others like him - improving outdoor recreation comes down to passion and love.

"We are lucky to have many passionate community members that understand the importance of outdoor recreation contributing to quality of life," he said. "Confluence is and will continue to be an important gathering to grow outdoor recreation, and improve the quality of life for all Alaskans."

The event also had outdoor recreation business and policy pitching. Copper Valley Telecom donated $2,000 to the three finalists in the business pitching.

Chris Moulton, who is a city council member and a buyer for Prospector Outfitters, was one of the judges.

Photo courtesy Valdez Adventure Alliance

Nolan Klouda delivered the keynote on Emerging Sectors. Klouda is executive director of University of Alaska Center for Economic Development Business Enterprise Institute.

"Being a judge for the business pitch session was a great experience, and great to see Alaskans looking outside the box to improve their communities and to forge their own path in the outdoor recreation market," Moulton said in an email. "While I've seen thousands of items throughout my retail career, there is always something new out there. Glad to see these folks going to get their piece and hopefully it inspires others."

North Shore Cyclery, a new bike shop that plans to use fat tire biking from helicopters in Talkeetna, took home first place honors.

Moving forward, Hart has big plans for the Valdez Adventure Alliance.

"We are committed to pushing for a cabinet-level office of Outdoor Recreation as has been done in eleven other states in the past couple years and to creating statewide sustainable funding sources to get staffing levels back up in State Parks and the Division of Natural Resources," she said.


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