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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Rays of Hope

The Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Foundation are national organizations that conduct research into the depth and effect of American’s participation in outdoor recreation. Each year, the Outdoor Foundation produces the Outdoor Participation Report – the largest, most comprehensive research report on outdoor recreation participation. Along with the overall report, research details individual outdoor

The Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Foundation are national organizations that conduct research into the depth and effect of American’s participation in outdoor recreation. Each year, the Outdoor Foundation produces the Outdoor Participation Report – the largest, most comprehensive research report on outdoor recreation participation. Along with the overall report, research details individual outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, biking, birding and fishing.

Having reviewed the 2020 Outdoor Participation Report, published on December 31, 2020, it appears that the outdoors has once again shown to be a place where Americans across the country are “seeking respite and solace from pandemic restrictions” and the related pressures. It can be said that we are not living in the worst of times, but it can also be said that we are not living in the best of times, either. It is difficult to enjoy now when we are focused on worrying about later.

But, the overall report reflects hope. Findings say that:

Camping grew in participation last year by 28%, with 7.9 million participants in 2020.

8.1 million more Americans hiked in 2020 than in 2019 – 16.3% increase.

Freshwater fishing also saw gains, rising 8.6%, adding 3.4 million anglers.

In all, more than half of all Americans took part in outdoor activities in 2020. Based on the outdoor activities in Northcentral Pennsylvania, it would be easy to conclude that such outdoor participation was even higher in our area. Folks here can so easily step outside, engage in so many varied forms of outdoor ventures and rediscover the simple things and that the outdoors appears to be the best medicine imaginable.

More people outside recreating is, after all, a good thing for everyone. Hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, birding, and hunting and fishing – or simply being outside in the sun and fresh air is much better for you than sitting around worrying about things we have no control over.

The weather forecasts for our neck of the woods show a slight increasing trend in temperatures and a slightly diminishing trend of snow activity. That is great news for those who have been waiting to spend time outside, but have been held back by the bone-chilling temperatures. While snowshoeing, skiing, and cross-country skiing will still be available for awhile, soon the nearby trails will become open to hiking without concern for deep snow or icy conditions.

During this transition period or snow cover to bare ground, many can venture forth in search of shed antlers (I have been receiving reports of an increasing number of bucks on trail cameras that have shed one or both antlers). Finding shed antlers can be a very rewarding activity and one we can explore in an upcoming column.

We are so fortunate here in Lycoming and surrounding counties to have so much open areas to recreate in – thousands of acres are open to everyone within state parks and state forests, miles of trails are available for hiking and biking and open waters for fishing – from the big water of the Susquehanna river to small mountain streams and beaver ponds for trout are all accessible nearby. This time of year hunters who are pursuing coyotes should have good success. The deep snows and resultant layers of ice have greatly reduced food sources for all wildlife, including the wily coyotes. They should be much more receptive to calling when they are having difficulty finding their next meal!

No matter what your preferences for outside activities may be, if you live in or visit the streams and hills of the Northern tier, you’ll be blessed with fresh air, a lifting of your spirits and an enriched attitude at the end of the day! Take time to step outside and discover the “rays of hope” that await us all.

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