Western Governors Look to Boost Western Recreation and Tourism Economies: Whitefish is on the Cutting Edge of Implementation!
At the recent Western Governors Conference, a diverse group of recreation and tourism experts reported their findings and recommendations for creating more jobs and income through outdoor recreation and tourism, and for encouraging more young people to explore the West’s great outdoors.
According to a Western Governors Get Out West! Advisory Group, in order for the West to remain the best place for outdoor recreation and tourism, the Governors should embrace policies that facilitate the growth of these industries and maintain and improve the lands and waters, trails and other infrastructure that make the West a great place to visit and play.
On the local level, Whitefish is on the cutting edge of implementing these goals and strategies by creating and expanding the Whitefish Trail system. Whitefish Legacy Partners has and continues to work with various state, regional and local governmental entities on creating, and now expanding the Whitefish Trail system and initiating the Whitefish Legacy Lands conservation campaign.
In December 2011, the Governors adopted a resolution encouraging the use of the conservation corps to do construction and maintenance of recreation assets on public lands. The Whitefish Trail has successfully utilized the conservation corps to do the very hard work of cutting new trail.
In June 2012, Western Governors and the outdoor recreation industry released a joint report which found the economic contribution of outdoor recreation in the Western states was $255.6 billion. It is estimated that 56% of Whitefish/Flathead Valley visitors come to hike and bike as part of their visit, according to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.
The Whitefish Legacy Lands has been supported by our own Governor Brian Schweitzer. A former Whitefish resident, Governor Schweitzer gave his acknowledgement to the project after an informational presentation by the City of Whitefish and WLP to the Land Board in Helena in March 2012, “I am encouraged by the ingenuity the folks in Whitefish have shown in their ability to think outside of the box. These partnerships mutually benefit all involved, and we hope your group will be able to translate this effort into a ‘how-to’ manual to share with communities across Montana.”