OLYMPIA - Community and business leaders, tour operators, conservation organizations and state officials will gather here Sept. 3 to craft a plan to expand and promote wildlife viewing tourism in Washington.
The session, hosted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED), will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel, 2300 Evergreen Park Drive in Olympia.
The forum will feature a presentation by James Mallman, national executive director of Watchable Wildlife, Inc. He will discuss demographic shifts and other trends that offer potential for furthering wildlife-viewing tourism.
The afternoon will center on facilitated small-group discussions aimed at creating a statewide strategic plan for wildlife-viewing tourism. Resource materials will be provided to participants and will include WDFW's "Adding It Up" publication on Washington's wildlife-based recreation spending, information on the watchable wildlife industry and other states' viewing activities, as well as wildlife viewing guides and maps.
Success stories featuring Washington communities that have developed wildlife viewing festivals and a presentation on other North American states' wildlife viewing programs will be presented during the lunch discussion.
The wildlife tourism strategic plan developed from the forum will be presented to the state Legislature in December.
Wildlife-based recreation generates over $2 billion annually in Washington state. A national survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that fishers, hunters and wildlife viewers spent a total of $2.18 billion here in 2001. Of that amount, wildlife watchers spent $980 million in Washington, the seventh highest figure in the nation.
Washington communities host a dozen annual wildlife viewing festivals, most launched within the past decade. Events across the state, in locations ranging from the upper Skagit Valley to Walla Walla, celebrate viewing opportunities offered by the annual migration of fish and wildlife.
Registration for the forum is $25, which includes resource materials and lunch. Reservations should be made by Aug. 22 to Cheryl Rasch at (360) 725-4177 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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