Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Montana State Parks Seeks Public Comment on Statewide Recreation Plan - Meetings Tomorrow

Montana State Parks has announced that public comment is being sought on the draft Montana Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The plan provides strategic recommendations to help maintain outdoor recreation as a priority in Montana because it benefits the quality of life for Montanans, and helps sustain economic vitality of our communities.

This plan, titled Creating a Vibrant Future for Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Heritage, provides a roadmap for recreation in Montana for 2014-2018. In Montana, demands for outdoor recreation are increasing. From 2008-2012, Glacier National Park visitation was up 16.4%, Montana State Parks visitation increased by 10%, Bureau of Land Management visitation is up 9%, and from 2000-2010, off-highway vehicle registration has tripled and fishing is up 5%.

Outdoor recreation is defined as hiking, walking, biking, motorized use (off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles), wildlife-associated recreation, aquatic activities, and more. In 2012, 77% of Montana households reported participating in walking and biking.

This statewide draft plan was developed through a collaborative process with an advisory committee representing federal, state, and local recreation managers, and tourism partners, along with public surveys of Montana residents by the University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research and additional national and state agency data collection.

The 2014-2018 SCORP key findings show that while Montana residents and more than 10 million out-of-state visitors, enjoy a diverse array of outdoor recreation opportunities on Montana’s 38 million acres of public land, each year, outdoor recreation managers and entities are struggling to accommodate the increased demand due to decreasing budgets, increasing maintenance costs and lack of coordination between federal, state, and local governments along with stakeholder organizations and associations.

SCORP offers a roadmap for the next 5 years recommending ways that outdoor recreation can be prioritized at a higher level, so that the capacity of agencies to manage recreation safely and adequately on public lands does not diminish. The plan looks at Montana’s existing outdoor recreation facilities and resources, growing demands for recreation activities, and evaluates national and state trends.

In addition to its value as a planning document, the completion of a SCORP continues Montana’s eligibility for the stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant program, a federally funded program that has supported community recreation projects in Montana communities since 1965 and is administered by Montana State Parks.

Today, Montana receives approximately $300,000 in federal funding per year for local community grants. Recent LWCF projects include the acquisition of park land on Mount Ascension in Helena and development of a city swimming pool in Malta.

This week, the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board proposed that the draft SCORP be made available for a 30-day public comment.

The 2014-2018 SCORP can viewed on the Montana State Parks website, public comment page.

The public is invited to review the draft plan and provide comments to Montana State Parks by Monday, November 18 at 5pm.

The public can also send comments by mail to: Montana Draft 2014-2018 SCORP Public Comment, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

In addition, Montana State Parks will be hosting a statewide public meeting on Wednesday, October 23. The meeting will be from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the following locations:

1. Kalispell – FWP Region 1 - 490 North Meridian Rd (contact: Dave Landstrom (406) 751-4578)

2. Missoula – FWP Region 2- 3201 Spurgin Rd (contact: Chet Crowser (406) 542-5517)

3. Helena – FWP HQ - 1420 E. 6th Ave (contact: Maren Murphy (406) 444-3750)

4. Bozeman – FWP Region 3 - 1400 South 19th Ave (contact: Jerry Walker (406) 994-3552)

5. Great Falls – FWP Region 4 - 4600 Giant Springs Rd (contact: Matt Marcinek (406) 454-5856)

6. Billings – FWP Region 5 - 2300 Lake Elmo Dr (contact: Doug Habermann (406) 247-2954)

The public is invited to attend the meeting to review and discuss the development of the 2014-2018 SCORP, the priorities and recommendations of the plan, and the value of the plan at the community level.


Jeff
Hiking in Glacier National Park

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