PWSEDD seeks ideas on outdoor recreation priorities

Scenic hike: The reservoir meadows on Oct. 15. Photo by Grace Lee/For The Cordova Times. Grace Lee is a stay-at-home Cordova mom and fisherman’s wife who said she enjoys cooking, exploring, and spending all her days outside.
Scenic hike: The reservoir meadows on Oct. 15. Photo by Grace Lee/For The Cordova Times.

A team from the Prince William Sound Economic Development District is working with stakeholders on projects to submit for inclusion in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) being developed.

According to Jake Borst program manager for PWSEDD, Prince William Sound outdoor recreation organizations, supporters and other stakeholders will collaborate in meetings this summer and fall to compile a list of ongoing and future project plans for the area, which will be reviewed and then submitted to the statewide plan to be used to secure funds as projects become construction ready.

In order to be considered a priority for some of the $900 million now available through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), funded by oil and gas royalties under the Great American Outdoors Act, Alaska outdoor recreation projects must be included in the SCORP document.

The SCORP is a five-year, all-inclusive document outlining priority plans, projects, strategies and goals directed to bolstering the outdoor recreation opportunities in a particular state. Alaska’s current SCORP is set to expire at the end of the 2021 calendar year. The SCORP to be compiled will cover 2022-2027.

The list of other Alaska working group facilitators preparing areas lists of projects include Seward/Girdwood/Kenai, Anchorage, Mat-Su/Copper River, Denai borough, Interior/Fairbanks, Southeast-north, Southeast-south and rural Alaska.

The overall state of Alaska SCORP work is being led by Alaska State Parks and the National Parks Service Rivers Trails Conservation Assistance program, with support from the Alaska Trails Initiative. More information is at alaska-trails.org/regional-working-groups and dnr.alaska.gov/parks/scorp.htm.

According to the Bureau for Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation activities support over 20,000 jobs in Alaska or 4.5 percent of the state’s total employment. In October of 2019, the Congressional Research Service published a report stating that the outdoor recreation economy of the U.S. has grown by nearly 10% since 2012 and in Alaska, 4.2% of the state’s GDP in 2017 can be attributed to outdoor recreation, Borst said.