Shorts: Blue Ridge Briefs

Runner Journeys Across America for Veterans

In early May, 57-year-old Alan Barlow set off on a cross-country run from the coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, towards Virginia Beach, Va. Bartow undertook the 3,400-mile feat with the goal of raising $50,000 for the nonprofit organization Building Homes for Heroes, which provides mortgage-free new homes and renovations to veterans. In a pre-run statement Bartow said: “Many small actions over time create change, and I am hopeful my small contribution with this run across the United States brings more awareness to the needs of our nation’s veterans and the outstanding work of Building Homes for Heroes.”  Bartow, a retiree who lives in Concord, New Hampshire, attempted an unsupported run across America in 2015, but he called it quits after finishing 952 miles in 39 days, succumbing to exhaustion and “poor route decisions.”

Tennessee Teacher Cycles Cross Country to Gets Kids on Bikes

Immediately following the school year, biology teacher Noah Naseri set off on a two-month cycling trip across the country, starting in Yorktown, Va., with the goal of riding all the way to San Francisco. Naseri, who teaches at Chuckey-Doak High School near Johnson City, Tenn., is riding to raise funds to start a high school mountain bike team in the Tri-Cities. Naseri, who plans to reach the Bay Area by the end of the month, told the Johnson City Press he hopes to raise just under $7,000 to pay for bikes, jerseys, and licensing fees for student bikers. Before he even started pedaling, the local biking community rallied to help him raise nearly half of that amount. Once he returns home, Naseri wants to have a team ready to compete this fall.

New Deal Keeps Rafts Floating on the Ocoee

Whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River is big business in Tennessee—contributing 600 jobs and $3.57 million to the state every year, while also generating $44 million in economic activity in the area around the river. But a dispute between the industry and the Tennessee Valley Authority nearly put the future of running rapids in jeopardy. The TVA had long been claiming it needed to raise the price it charged outfitters to divert water from its dam to keep the Ocoee whitewater stretches running—in order to make up for lost power production revenues—and was planning to do so in 2019. River outfitters argued that increased charges would likely put them out of business.

Fortunately, after state and federal government intervention, a deal has been reached: the state will pay the TVA for power shortfalls and provide oversight of commercial river guides. The outfitters will then pay the state 10 percent of the cost of a river trip.

Hungry Bear Honks Horn

A young black bear looking for food managed to open a car door and climb into the vehicle at a residential home in Roanoke, Va. The owners were startled at 5 a.m. on May 12 when the bear, stuck, started honking the car’s horn. After authorities were called, a police officer opened the car’s back door and the 200-pound bear ran out of the vehicle and into the woods. This was just one of multiple bear sightings in Roanoke this past spring. Last month, a bear was spotted in a tree downtown, and soon after, a bear seen lingering around the Virginia Transportation Museum had to be tranquilized and removed.

By the Numbers

Economics of Outdoor Recreation

In late April, the Outdoor Industry Association released the Outdoor Recreation Economy report, a comprehensive study of outdoor recreation’s impact on consumer spending and employment. The organization analyzed the impact of 10 activity categories that make up the outdoor recreation economy, including camping, snow sports, water sports, wheel sports, and trail sports, which includes hiking and backpacking, climbing and running more than three miles. Below are some key numbers from the report:

$887 Billion

Consumer spending generated by the outdoor recreation economy annually.

$65.3 Billion

Federal tax revenue generated by the outdoor recreation economy annually.

$59.2 Billion

State and local tax revenue generated by the outdoor recreation economy annually.

331 Million

Number of people who visit national parks every year.

145 Million

Number of Americans  who participate in outdoor recreation every year.

7.6 Million

American jobs created by the outdoor recreation economy.

Places to Go, Things to See: