People are getting outdoors more

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A man hiking.

I’m convinced that people are getting outside more now than in the recent past.

I didn’t receive a government grant to study this, so take it for what it’s worth — one woman’s observations and examples from this past summer.

My husband, son and I always take outdoor vacations. We avoid cities like the plague.

San Fran is nice? I’ll take your word for it. Everybody should experience NYC? You can have my turn.

We are headed for wide open spaces with a tent and a can of bug spray.

Outdoors

But what has surprised me this summer is how many others are in the wilderness when we get there.

OK, wilderness might be an exaggeration — there’s usually a restroom — but we try to seek places with few people, and that seems to be tougher to do.

We vacationed on the shores of Lake Superior this summer, probably an hour from a gallon of milk, on a road that turned to dirt — and the campground was packed.

My son and I rode our bikes on the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park mid-week on a hot day, and the trail was full of other bikers, hikers, dog walkers and a group of bird watchers with camera lenses longer than my arm.

And I get that CVNP is really close to Cleveland and Akron, but think about all the other attractions in that area that compete for people’s recreation time.

The Holmes County Trail where I walk at lunch most days is a constant stream of bikers, walkers, runners and Amish buggies.

We’ve kayaked a couple of times on our favorite river — where we used to not see anyone else — but now we regularly see others kayaking, fishing, and tubing.

We’ve shot sporting clays several times this summer, and the course was full of people ranging from 10-year old kids to at least one 90-year old man.

And I’m not the only woman out there anymore, by a long shot.

My point is this — people are getting outside.

Getting out

My Cleveland cousin is rafting the Colorado River, my co-worker’s niece from Chicago is climbing to Everest base camp, my friend in Charlotte is “glamping” in the mountains of North Carolina, and a high school friend just moved to Raleigh and some of the first photos she posted were of the wooded walking/biking trail near her new home.

A representative from the state treasurer’s office in Columbus stopped by our office, and it surprised me when he talked about his love of fishing.

Because he was in a suit and shiny shoes, I expected that the sushi bar would be the closest thing to fishing in his world.

And I really don’t even need to mention Lake Erie. Ohioans don’t realize how much we love it until it turns green.

People in the cities and the country are getting outside. And maybe the whole goal is a cool social media post, but they are out there.

People care

And that’s great because as conservationists, we recognize that people have to care about something before protecting it becomes a priority.

Our phone here at the SWCD is ringing with more pollution complaints this year than we’ve had in the past five years combined.

People expect clean water, and they expect their neighbor to follow the rules and keep manure and sediment out of the nearest stream or pond so they can enjoy it.

I’m encouraged that more people seem to appreciate the natural resources that SWCDs have been protecting for over 70 years.

Contact your local SWCD for more information about implementing conservation practices on your property.

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