National Get Outdoors Day promotes activity and conservation

National Get Outdoors Day is “a new annual event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun” that encourages traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities, according to nationalgetoutdoorsday.org. This nationwide event was started in 2008 by the U.S. Forest Service and American Recreation Coalition as an effort to connect “first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.” In Vancouver, Washington on June 14 National Get Outdoors Day was held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site on a slightly overcast Saturday afternoon. There were plenty of outdoor activities to be found for attendees such as archery, catching live fish, log sawing and rock-climbing, as well as a wide variety of information centered on conservation efforts.

At Fort Vancouver’s National Get Outdoors Day, visitors were given a Challenge Passport, the challenge being to get a stamp from a representative at each booth listed on the passport. Once the passport was sufficiently stamped, visitors turned in their passport to be entered into a prize drawing and also earned Junior Ranger status. Along with becoming a Junior Ranger, guests were sworn in with an oath to get outdoors more. As Wash. is an area known for its great outdoors, representatives from a multitude of outdoors-themed institutions were present, including federal representatives from the National Park Service and previously mentioned U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, to local representatives from OMSI, Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation and Clark Public Utilities.

Dean Butterworth, a representative for Olympic National Park, demonstrated with a life-like model the process of river flow and the effects of dams on the Elwha River, which is located in the Olympic Peninsula. Butterworth also explained the potentially hazardous effects the dam has on wildlife, specifically salmon who are blocked from traveling upstream to spawn. Butterworth said, “I want [visitors] to be excited to learn more about science and our national parks. [Dams] really have an effect on local wildlife and I want to share that with people.” Students who are on Washington State University Vancouver’s campus over the summer can explore the Southwest Wash. region and find out more information about local ecology by linking up with OSI Recreation. OSI Rec has events planned that will get students and friends outdoors and able to see the one-of-a-kind nature the state has to offer for little to no cost. On July 9 there is a day hike at Lava Canyon, east of Mount St. Helens. This hike is free for both students and non-students and sign-up is on or before July 8 at OSI Recreation’s office in the Annex building, located next to Green Lot 3.

Later in the summer is the Cape Horn hike along the Wash. side of the Columbia River Gorge on August 8, which is also free for students and non-students. Sign up for the Cape Horn hike is on or before August 7. Carpools are required for both events and attendees will meet on campus at the Recreation office before riding to the locations. Please note that non-students cannot ride in University vehicles.

Cambri Shanahan, OSI Rec’s outdoor intern, also shared some advice for VanCougs who are not sure where to start when it comes to outdoor activities. “I believe if you just start with the activities you love, like hiking for instance, and have a trail you enjoy, keep heading to that trail. Get out and become an expert on that trail, show your friends and family, and gain confidence. Then go hike another trail, and another, and another!” OSI Rec also rents out equipment including, “paddleboards, inflatable kayaks, tents, backpacks, mountain bikes, coolers, and more.” The equipment is available at a reduced rate for both students and faculty and according to Shanahan is “waiting to be rented and taken out!”

More information and specific details about both the hikes and equipment rentals can be found by stopping by the OSI Recreation office, e-mailing outdoor intern Cambri Shanahan at osi.outdoorintern@vancouver.wsu.edu or by finding the event on CougSync.

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