Grand Marais, MN (PRWEB) March 06, 2012
Results are in from the 2007 survey done in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The study, "The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: Examining changes in use, users, and management challenges," was completed by Robert Dvorak, Alan E. Watson, Neal Christensen, William T. Borrie and Ann Schwaller. The USFS has compiled some interesting and somewhat alarming information regarding the average visitor to the BWCA.
The mean age of the BWCA visitor has increased significantly over the past 40 years. In 1969, the mean age was 25 years old; in 1991, 36 years old, and in 2007, it was 45 years old. (Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-91.)
While it is good news the aging population is active, it isn’t good news the youth population is inactive. We all know children do not get enough time in the great outdoors. Time spent in the wilderness has many positive effects on people of all ages but kids aren’t getting outside and they aren’t visiting the BWCA. This is bad news for canoe outfitters like Mike Prom on Minnesota's Gunflint Trail.
Mike Prom says, "We’ve owned Voyageur Canoe Outfitters since 1993 and we’ve seen the age of canoe country visitors increase. The over-scheduling of kids, the lack of wilderness experience and the inability to disconnect from technology are all factors keeping young people out of the Boundary Waters.
When asked what measures Prom has taken to get more young people paddling he explained, “We offer really inexpensive youth group rates to get kids hooked on camping and we offer deeply discounted rates for families since the cost is coming out of one pocket. We make it easier for families and kids to experience the BWCA.”
It’s going to take more than the effort of canoe outfitters to stop the upward trend of the age of visitors in the BWCA. Families need to take their children camping, Youth Groups need to introduce their youth to wilderness areas and some of those aging white men need to bring along a kid or two the next time they visit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.