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  • Steph Noll

2023 Oregon Outdoor Recreation Summit Recap

A pelican flies over the bay in front of clouds with blue sky peeking through

Earlier this month, 300 outdoor recreation and trails leaders, builders, doers, learners, and community connectors met on Coos Bay for three days of learning, relationship-building, and collaborative problem solving. Our generous hosts at The Mill Hotel and Casino and Coquille Indian Tribe provided a wonderful setting for learning and collaborating.

Openng plenary highlights included a welcome address by Coquille Tribe Chair, Brenda Meade and a Cultural Resources Panel featuring speakers from Oregon State Parks, The Coqillle Indian Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of The Siletz Indians, and The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians.

The first day ended with a session emceed by Oregon Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council Chair, Melissa Wong, that included updates on HB 2171 Implementation and other outdoor recreation statewide planning efforts from Oregon Parks and Recreation Director, Lisa Sumption, and staff working on the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF), new Statewide Accessibilty Standards, and the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Attendees learned we can expect a hiring process for the open Director postion of the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation in early 2024. From there attendees headed to fabulous and fun networking party and dinner hosted by Travel Oregon at North Bend Lanes.

Other summit hilghlights included a Dark Sky Summit, folks braving the rain for a variety of field workshops including hikes on the Oregon Coast Trail and tours at Whiskey Run, a closing reception hosted by Oregon Outdoor Alliance and featuring storytelling from Coquille Indian Chief Jason Younker, and a rich program of breakout sessions on topics such as wildlife crossings, maintaining urban trails in the context of climate change, rural outdoor recreation partnerships, equitable community engagement, trails and fire resiliency, building Oregon's outdoor recreation economy, what's next for Oregon's Signature Trails, and more. Links to many of the presentations shared can be found in the summit agenda.

2023 Summit by the Numbers

  • Almost 300 attendees

  • More than 80 presenters in more than 30 sessions and field workshops over 3 days

  • All-time high of 13 in-field experiences scheduled; 4 cancelled due to wind and rain. (We'll have to go back!)

  • 50 scholarship recipients including Why Guides program supported by Travel Oregon and Tribal and Rural Community Leaders program supported by the Roundhouse Foundation

Summit Highlights in the Words of Summit Participants:

"I really appreciated how friendly everyone was. As a solo attendee, I never felt left-out. Also, the food at all venues was Ah-Mazing!"

"The focus on equity and accessibility was refreshing."

"The diversity of presentations/voices. We are finally making progress!"

"Meeting, building relationships, and sharing information with industry experts and partners."

"The presentations/breakout rooms on Thursday and Friday were awesome. I really appreciate the knowledge and expertise that was shared."

"The field events I attended were also top notch."

"Loved the tribal speakers and highlighting tribal work in this field."

"Conversations about the importance of tribal involvement in decision-making, conversations around improving access to the outdoor for people of all abilities."

"Met existing customers, met new potential customers, discussed the state of the trail-verse in Oregon (and outside it) with everyone, learned new things, relearned old things, had a fun and valuable time."

"I loved everyone's passion/enthusiasm/energy".

"A lot of the sessions were super informative and the summit had the right amount of information. I enjoyed the many different people from all different aspects of the Outdoor Recreation industry. The social activities like bowling and the mixer were fabulous. I also enjoyed the emphasis on the indigenous community of the area and how they were embedded into the program."

"I talked to so many great people that were personally and professionally significant, the party was THE BEST - so fun!"

"Dreamers!" "People looking for solutions."

We have so much gratitude for all the sponsors and exhibitors, speakers, planning committee members, volunteers, shuttle drivers, staff at The Mill and North Bend Lanes, intrepid field experience leaders, and summit participants that made this year's summit what it was. Extra special thanks to Coquille Indian Tribe Chair Brenda Meade and Chief Jason Younker for helping us open and close our event and ground everyone in the history and current work of the Tribe and the amazing place where we were so generously hosted for the event.

Photos from Top: Jessica Carrillo Alatorre, Matt Ruddy, Jessica Carrillo Alatorre, Michelle Emmons, Hilary Sager, Steph Noll, Michelle Emmons, Michelle Emmons, Michelle Emmons, Michelle Emmons, Hilary Sager, LeeAnne Fergason, Steph Noll, Matt Ruddy, Ann Hanus, Ann Hanus, Jessica Carrillo Alatorre

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