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Gov. Bullock announces outdoor recreation plan

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Two mountain bikers on the trail in Big Sky. PHOTO COURTESY OF MT DEPT OF COMMERCE

EBS STAFF

HELENA – On the heels of a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that shows Montana is a national leader in outdoor recreation, Gov. Steve Bullock announced on Dec. 17 the release of a new Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. This document, known as the SCORP report, will provide the state with five years of guidance in developing Montana’s outdoor recreation infrastructure.

“It’s no secret that Montana is an incredible place to live, work, play and raise a family,” Bullock said in a press release. “The quality of life that our state offers is second to none, with unparalleled access to world class recreational opportunities. The plan addresses how we, as a state, can protect and enhance the outdoor recreation assets that sustain our economy and our livelihoods and support opportunities for residents and visitors alike.”

The plan identifies six statewide goals and recommendations for outdoor recreation. These include promoting outdoor recreation opportunities for all Montanans, enhancing public access to outdoor recreation resources and facilities, supporting the economic vitality of communities and the state, improving quality of life through outdoor recreation experiences, adapting outdoor recreation for a changing environment, and honoring Montana’s outdoor legacy.

“At Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, we believe that the ‘outside is in us all’. The SCORP report reinforces this sentiment and shows that Montanans cherish their time outside and the incredible experiences that Montana’s outdoor resources offer,” said MT FWP Director Martha Williams in a statement.

The plan also impacts the actions of the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation. “The 2019 SCORP elevates and broadens the strategic plan to take action and I anticipate that it will take us and our outdoor way of life to a whole new level, setting the bar for state planning,” said director Rachel VandeVoort in a statement.

The outdoor recreation plan was developed in part by an advisory council with members representing the public and private sectors, local, state, tribal and federal agencies, and advocacy organizations. It also relied on expertise from Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf, a University of Montana professor who oversaw development of the plan.

“As a social scientist and a professor of outdoor recreation, leading the planning efforts for SCORP was an invaluable opportunity to work with Montana State Parks and connect with the outdoor recreation community to develop goals that meet the needs of the state,” Metcalf said in a statement. “As a Montanan who enjoys recreating with my family, the completion of this project is also deeply rewarding as it will impact our own experiences in the years to come.”

In addition to serving as a planning document, the outdoor recreation plan provides Montana with eligibility for Land and Water Conservation Funds, which have been used in the Treasure State to the tune of $38 million to support outdoor recreation.

Visit files.cfc.umt.edu/humandimensionslab/SCORP_2020-2024.pdf to view the 2020-2024 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

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