WHITEFISH, Mont. – On Thursday and Friday, the Montana Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, in partnership with the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council and the Montana Access Project, will host the 2019 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit: Recreation Innovation Lab in Whitefish, Mont.
More than 100 outdoor recreation entrepreneurs are expected to attend the 2019 Innovation Lab and share ways to create more recreation opportunities in “frontcountry” areas – places that are easy to get to by car or for day trips. The Lab will focus on increasing access to frontcountry recreation and will include industry leaders from across Montana and the “the Crown of the Continent” region – where Montana, Alberta and British Columbia meet.
Among those leaders will be Diane Conradi, co-host and founder of the Montana Access Project. Conradi will share her expertise from her work bringing together public and private land managers, community officials and businesses to create quality recreation experiences in smaller communities across Montana, including a 42-mile multiple-use trail system located near Whitefish on private and public land, including Stillwater State Forest land.
“There is overwhelming data on the economic and health benefits of outdoor recreation, but far fewer resources for smaller communities seeking to create and sustain quality places to get out into nature close to home, especially in the rural West,” said Conradi, who also founded Whitefish Legacy Partners. “This Lab is a great step toward empowering each community with the tools, connections, and expertise it needs to build and sustain the vital connections to the outdoor wonders Montana has to offer.”
Conradi will be joined by Rachel VandeVoort, director of the Montana Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, and Sheena Pate, project coordinator for the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council, who will provide statewide and regional expertise on the economic potential for these areas.
Outdoor recreation overall contributes an estimated $7.1 billion to Montana’s economy and brings more than 12.4 million visitors to the state each year. Access to unspoiled nature enhances the quality of life for more than one million Montanans and provides a unique, competitive advantage to recruit new businesses and retain job-creating innovators.
Other highlights of the 2019 Innovation Lab include:
• Leading experts from the “Crown of the Continent” will share their experience, knowledge, and inspiration in the areas of planning, design and construction; public and private land recreation; operations and maintenance; funding; legal and risk management; economics; public-private partnerships; and community engagement
• Participants will be able to enter a Recreation Innovation Award Competition worth $2,500 provided by hunting map innovators onX to support important recreation work
• Optional in-depth legal training will be available for lawyers, landowners and managers on public recreation use liability in Montana. Liability exposure is one of the most commonly expressed concerns about public recreation, yet Montana has strong protections for landowners and land managers alike. Leading experts will review the law of recreational liability on public and private land and share advanced techniques for managing risk. Participation in the Continuing Legal Education (CLE), requires separate registration through the event website
The Innovation Lab is made possible through REI Co-op, the Outdoor Industry Association, Montana State Parks and many other businesses and organizations that are working to encourage access to outdoor recreation in Montana and surrounding areas.
Rachel VandeVoort, director of the Montana Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation
Sheena Pate, project coordinator for the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council
Diane Conradi, founder of the Montana Access Project and Whitefish Legacy Partners
WHAT: 2019 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit: Recreation Innovation Lab: Frontcountry Recreation
WHEN: Oct. 10-11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MDT
WHERE: Grouse Mountain Lodge
2 Fairway Drive
Whitefish, MT 59937
Click here to register and to find more information about the Innovation Lab.