When I find the time, I’m a big fan of hiking and kayaking. When paddling, one of the my biggest peeves is the Jet Ski, which is loud, intrusive, and annoying when I just want to chill on the water. I have generally marked my annoyance as part of my transition to becoming a crabby old man, but it ends up that maybe I’m just an early adopter of what some folks are calling “quiet recreation.” This is a new term (to me at least) that refers to pastimes like hiking, paddling, hunting, fishing, and birdwatching. The Pew Trusts and others have been assessing the impact of these activities for a few years now. (This category would exclude activities like ATV trails, jet skis, and other motorized uses.) A new study of quiet recreation in on Bureau of Land management lands in Utah finds that quiet recreation is quite an economic stimulus for the region, accounting for 74% of all recreation visits in the area. You can find other state fact sheets from the Pew Trusts here.
I realize that quiet recreation doesn’t work for everyone. For example, I know that many communities in Appalachia are enjoying great success with ATV trails. But, it’s nice to see the growth of concepts like quiet recreation or dark sky tourism, which is booming thanks to interest in the upcoming solar eclipse. They offer opportunities for us to commune with nature, but they can also generate real economic development benefits for regions that embrace these new approaches to tourism and recreation.