Nebraska's NExt Generation Ideas

Nebraska's Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recently launched a Forging Nebraska's Future initiative that started with a grass-roots effort to garner ideas from across the state as to what needs to happen to make Nebraska a place our young people want to come home to.

They have just now released the results of that effort with the report "100 NEXT GENERATION IDEAS." I highly encourage you to click through the link and read the entire report for yourself.

There are a lot of good ideas in this report, there are some that make you go hmmmmm. There are a lot of things that some form of government must do. Not a lot of empowering the private sector to do. However, there are many ideas that affect the Nebraska Outback, especially in the realm of outdoor recreation and tourism and I'd like to outline those for you here.

57. Work with Nebraska Game and Parks to develop a large park and campground in the Sandhills that will play off of the unique attributes of the region and also offer top-notch lodging and recreational opportunities; include development of a new ATV park that will be the envy of the country. This will bring considerable new economic activity to the region.

58.Nebraska needs to develop pro­grams that will promote conser­vation of land, increase habitat, increase pheasant populations and in turn promote tourism in rural Ne­braska. I think a program geared toward taking marginal (high soil erosion potential or similar) farm land out of production and promot­ing use of the land for tourism-hunting would help in a variety of ways.

61. Encouraging in-state tourism. Our state could offer some sort of pack­age deal that could be personal­ized to fit an individual or family’s interest. Let’s spread adventure.

74. Offer a package deal for non- Nebraska hunters to get reduced prices on hunting permits when staying at least 4 days at a Ne­braska State Park (ideally a park that offers hunting, or is close to open access hunting land).

84. Offer a military discount for hunting and fishing licenses.

86. Complete the Cowboy Trail, Amer­ica’s longest rails-to-trails project, and construct a new trail along the Platte River.

88. Preserve surface water - enter into compacts with Wyoming and Colo­rado to protect Platte River flows; dam rivers to the extent possible consistent with wildlife habitat pro­tection, recreation, and irrigation, as well as compact obligations; utilize “gray” water for irrigation and residential watering; reduce irrigation needs by utilizing better farming practices.

99. Work with the appropriate local, state and federal agencies to make 60% of Nebraska’s lake shores available for private residential development. This has been done successfully in Missouri.

The Outdoor Recreation Economy
I find these very interesting because they coincide with another report, the Outdoor Recreation Economy released by the Outdoor Industry Association.  

Given that Nebraska is 97% private land, with the state and federal government managing just 3% of our natural resources, Nebraska's development of our natural resources for outdoor recreation purposes MUST come from the private sector, which is why I would like to have seen more empowerment initiatives in the 100 NEXT GENERATION IDEAS report.

Some statistics from the Outdoor Recreation Economy Report.

- 6.1 million American jobs
-$646 billion in outdoor recreation spending each year
-$39.9 billion in federal tax revenue
- $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue

Americans spend nearly as much on snow sports ($53 billion) as they do on Internet Access ($54 billion).
Americans spend more on bicycling gear and trips ($81 billion) than they do on Airplane tickets and fees ($51 billion).
More American jobs depend on trail sports (768,000) than there are lawyers (728,200) in the U.S.

In Nebraska, at least 65% of Nebraskans participate in outdoor recreation each year.
Nebraska Statistics
You'll have to go to the full report to see clear images of the screen captures I've shown here.

One of the things that could have been addressed in the Nebraska report was revamping our recreational liability laws to limit the landowner's responsibility for liability involving the "inherent risks" of outdoor recreation. There is a bill in the legislature right now that would do just that, but having it in this report might have increased its chances of passage.

What are your thoughts? What are your ideas to help Nebraska capitalize on the huge outdoor recreation economy?


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