Public Invited to Comment on Draft Valdez Master Trails Plan on National Trails Day

 Members of a fly-in for the outdoor recreation industry joined Gov. Bill Walker as he signed the proclamation designating June as Great Outdoors Month. National Trails Day, always the first Saturday in June, will be celebrated n Valdez with a trails open house. Pictured, from left, are Cailin-O-Brien Feeney, Outdoor Industry Association; Thor Stacey, Alaska Professional Guides Association; Lee Hart, Valdez Adventure Alliance/Confluence; Gov. Bill Walker; Dan Blanchard, UnCruise Adventures; and EJ Reiser, The North Face.

Members of a fly-in for the outdoor recreation industry joined Gov. Bill Walker as he signed the proclamation designating June as Great Outdoors Month. National Trails Day, always the first Saturday in June, will be celebrated n Valdez with a trails open house. Pictured, from left, are Cailin-O-Brien Feeney, Outdoor Industry Association; Thor Stacey, Alaska Professional Guides Association; Lee Hart, Valdez Adventure Alliance/Confluence; Gov. Bill Walker; Dan Blanchard, UnCruise Adventures; and EJ Reiser, The North Face.

VALDEZ, AK -  The Valdez Adventure Alliance will observe National Trails Day with an open house to attract public comment on the draft Master Trails Plan being developed in conjunction with a grant from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program.

Hikers, bikers, snowmachine, off-road vehicle and other trail enthusiasts are invited to drop in to a Trails Open House that will be held Saturday, June 2, from 4 - 5 p.m. at the Roadside Potatohead, 255 Chitina Ave., on the harborfront in Valdez. Those who provide comments or share .gpx files of local trails will be thanked with their choice of a beer or soft drink and snacks.

Copies of the draft Master Trails Plan will be available at “The Potato” and are also available for preview by clicking on this link. Trails on local, state and federal lands from town to 50-mile are identified in the draft plan. Surveys, public meetings, and ranking exercises also produced a list of 15 proposed new trails. To complete the plan, Valdez Adventure Alliance and the National Park Service are asking Valdez residents for input on the plan and to share any .gpx files they may have of the proposed new trails by emailing .gpx files to info@valdezadventure.com. Many popular map and fitness phone apps enable users to easily download .gpx files.

National Trails Day, always held the first Saturday of June, is part of Great Outdoor Month a month-long celebration of the health, social and economic benefits of outdoor recreation that encourages friends and families to recreate outside. Gov. Bill Walker was among the first governors in the country this year to sign a Great Outdoors Month proclamation recognizing the “uniquely abundant outdoor recreation opportunities” and subsistence traditions Alaskans enjoy.

VAA also hopes to share the draft plan with the Valdez Parks and Recreation Commission at its June 12 meeting. For further information about the Trails Master Plan and Open House, contact Valdez Adventure Alliance Executive Director Lee Hart at info@valdezadventure.com.

‘Alaska Guide’ Publisher/Photographer Opens Professional Guide Service in Valdez

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VALDEZ, ALASKA - Alaska Guide Co. is transitioning from being a virtual guide to the Last Frontier to becoming a real-world guide service offering professionally led adventures including rock and ice climbing, glacier hikes, trekking and canoe tours in this iconic Alaska mountain town.

Zachary Sheldon, local photographer and owner of Alaska Photography, has been working on his Alaska Guide project for over seven years as an attempt to document the landscapes, people and wildlife of Alaska. Last year, he started offering photography tours and found himself catering to requests for more custom adventure tours including guided rock and ice climbing.

"People looking for guided adventures in Valdez would find my photography tours and ask if there were other things to do in summer besides charter fishing or glacier cruises,” Sheldon explained. “I wanted to help get visitors excited about the plethora of year-round adventures we have in Valdez so I started this licensed and insured guide service.”

In addition to his own love of climbing, Sheldon explained another reason for offering guided climbing. “I wanted to help give back to those who have put in so much work developing the routes around here. They've done a lot of heavy lifting, so if I can help them make money having fun, doing what they love, it's my way of saying 'thank you'," Sheldon said.Giving back to the local community is a priority for Sheldon who said he hopes most of his employees will be year-round Valdez area residents and he intends to offer local discounts on a space available basis.

Alaska Guide Co. will also plans to educate people in safety, general knowledge of the outdoors, and conservation ethics. The goal of Alaska Guide Co. is to get people excited about being outdoors in Alaska, to soak up it's beauty and care about its future. As Sheldon said, "There's a lot good for the soul that comes from being outdoors. The deeper into the wilderness the more profound the experience."

Alaska Guide Co. will be operate year-round; hours and tour offerings will vary by season. The guide to client ratio will be 1:4. Family friendly, the minimum age for guests is 8 for rock climbing; 12 for ice climbing. During the summer, the company will partner with Valdez Adventure Alliance to re-open and staff an information kiosk at Worthington Glacier State Recreation Site on Thompson Pass. For additional information, rates, availability and reservations, visit http://Alaska.Guide.

 

Help Wanted: Levitation 49 is Hiring Summer Jobs

 Brush trimming is part of the job for Levitation 49 summer paid and volunteer trail and grounds crews. The organization is also looking to hire a campground host for Blueberry Campground and water taxi boat captains to take guests to and from Shoup Bay public use cabins.

Brush trimming is part of the job for Levitation 49 summer paid and volunteer trail and grounds crews. The organization is also looking to hire a campground host for Blueberry Campground and water taxi boat captains to take guests to and from Shoup Bay public use cabins.

 

VALDEZ, AK - Gearing up for summer State Park operations, Levitation 49 is seeking a variety of positions to help operate and maintain the local state park units: Worthington Glacier and Blueberry Lake State Recreation Sites, Shoup Trail and the Shoup Bay public use cabins.By contract, the State Park units are open May 15 - September 15, weather permitting. The following positions are available for the coming season.

Campground Host. The campground host provides camper relations and maintenance for this small 15-site campground on scenic Thompson Pass, 24 miles north of Valdez. Situated on the shores of a high alpine lake with sweeping views down valley toward Valdez.  Blueberry Lake campground features picnic and camping sites for individuals and groups.

Special Projects: Visitor contact, campground maintenance and light janitorial for vault toilets at Blueberry and nearby Worthington Glacier SRS.

Season: 4 weeks minimum shift or all season, 5/15 – 9/15; weather permitting.

Amenities: Monthly subsistence payment and expenses.

Shoup Bay Water Taxi Service. Now accepting proposals for dedicated water taxi service to/from Valdez Small Boat Harbor to three public use cabins in Shoup Bay State Marine Park: Mcallister, Kittiwake and Moraine. User information from 2016 shows increased prospects for cabin reservations if dependable, affordable water taxi service is available. The cabins are located on the north side of Port Valdez, approximately 8.5 miles from Valdez. The park encompasses most of Shoup Bay and the southern half of Shoup Lake, also called the inner lagoon. There is an underwater moraine that stretches across the mouth of the bay and creates shallow shoals off the spit and on the opposite western side. The bay is connected to the tidally influenced lake by a shallow river that flows either way, depending on the tide. Ice from Shoup Glacier calves into the lake. Applicants should provide a detailed proposal including daily shuttle schedule, proposed fees and any value-adds, e.g. occasional cabin maintenance, kayak or SUP rentals to guests, or your ideas. Successful applicant will keeps all fees for water taxi service and/or rental gear; L49 keeps 100 percent cabin rental fees. Minimum six-pack captain’s license and proof of insurance are mandatory.

Trail and Grounds Crew. L49 is seeking general and lead trail crew position for the 2017 season. Trail work includes constructing and maintaining trails using both traditional hand tools (rakes, shovels, Pulaskis, etc.) and mechanized equipment (brushers, chain saws, etc.) as well as other tools necessary for trail projects. Trail work provides an exciting opportunity to work outdoors as part of a team to accomplish trail projects that facilitate the access and enjoyment of public trails and State Parks grounds. The work can be both physically and mentally demanding, but ultimately very rewarding. Minimum age 18; jobs require ability to perform physical labor for extended periods in frequently adverse weather conditions, push, pull, and lift heavy objects as well as walk long distances over rugged terrain. Pay ranges from $15/hr to $20+/hour based on experience.

All positions are considered contract labor; no benefits are paid. Pay is negotiable, based on experience. As a permittee of the State of Alaska, Levitation 49 complies with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Levitation 49 is an equal opportunity employer.

For more info visit the website, Levitation49.org. Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume with proof of relevant experience to jobs@levitation49.org.

 

Nationwide Trends Inspire L49 to Host Confluence

A growing trend of state's recognizing the value of the outdoors and outdoor recreation inspired Levitation 49 to host a statewide conference next month that will explore possibilities in Alaska.

Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors will be held June 3 at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. The one-day event seeks to assess and explore the political will to provide a louder more consistent voice for the economics of the outdoors.

Recommended reading for all Confluence attendees, and others who can't be there in person, include a white paper from the Outdoor Industry Association and an industry report on the quickening pace of state-level outdoor advocacy published by SNEWS, a leading media outlet for the outdoor trade.

 

 

Conference Shines Spotlight on Economic Potential of Outdoors

Anchorage, AK - Elected officials, businesses and leading environmental non-profits are expected attendees at an upcoming one-day conference dedicated to taking a closer look at the wide-ranging economic benefits of Alaska’s great outdoor.

Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors is scheduled to be held Friday, June 3 on the campus of Alaska Pacific University. The event is hosted by Valdez-based non-profit Levitation 49 and supported by the Outdoor Industry Association, Recreational Equipment Inc., adidas Outdoors, The North Face, Agnew Beck Consulting and Denali Brewing.

L49 Executive Director Lee Hart said the inspiration for the summit is two-fold. An 17-year veteran of the outdoor, snow sports, bike and adventure travel industries, Hart believes in the benefits of the outdoor industry to economic diversification and rural economic development.

Numbers from a 2013 market research study conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association bear out Hart’s assertions. In Alaska alone, outdoor recreation contributes $9.5 billion in consumer spending, 91,600 direct jobs, $2.6 billion in wages and salaries and $711 million in state and local tax revenue.

An early supporter of the Summit is Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. While collaborating with fellow legislators to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis, Kreiss-Tomkins contemplates sustainable solutions to grow local and state economies and make Alaska more resilient to fluctuations to the price of oil.  An avid runner and kayaker, the Sitka-born legislator believes the outdoors and outdoor recreation have epic potential to grow and make Alaska’s economy more sustainable.

Another leading proponent of the Summit is former Gov. Tony Knowles. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail named in his honor is a perfect case in point illustrating the benefit of investing in outdoor recreation. Now considered a jewel of Anchorage the trail is a wellness benefit to locals as well as attracting visitors. “As a longtime supporter of trails and public lands, the data is clear,” Knowles said. “Communities benefit economically, socially, and physically from the outdoor recreation and the many businesses that directly and indirectly benefit from their relationship with Alaska’s outdoors.”

Hart said the goal of Confluence is to finish the day with actionable outcomes and next steps. Elected officials, businesses and non-profits interested in attending can find further conference details and online registration on the L49 website.

ABOUT LEVITATION 49

Levitation 49 is a non-profit sports commission dedicated to economic diversification through events and projects that enhance the mountain sports lifestyle in Valdez, AK. To that end, L49 hosts the Valdez Ice Climbing Fest, Chugach Fat Bike Bash, Valdez Rock Climbing Fest and Confluence: Summit on the Outdoors.

Levitation 49 Makes Headlines

Levitation 49 has been making waves in the local media. Check out these stories from our friends at Alaska Dispatch News and KTUU-TV2.

Alaska Dispatch News, April 10, 2016, Trans-Alaska Pipeline Trail: A World-Class Tourism Draw with a Clear View of Responsible Development

KTUU-TV 2, April 7, 2016, Extreme Alaska: Chugach Fat Bike Bash

Backpacker magazine, April 2016, Is the Trans-Alaska Trail America's Next Great Long Trail? 

Alaska Dispatch News, March 28, 2006, Could a 'trans-Alaska trail' Parallel the Pipeline? A State Lawmaker Hopes So

KTUU-TV 2, Feb. 18, 2016, Extreme Alaska: Valdez Ice Fest

Alaska Dispatch News, Feb. 16, 2016: Does Valdez Ice Climbing Festival Signal Renaissance for an Outdoorsy Alaska Town? 

Outdoor Industry News, February 2016, Levitation 49 Brings New Perspectives on Fat Bike to Valdez

Alaska News, Dec. 18, 2015 Levitation 49 Set To Start New Year With New Partners

Outdoor Industry News, Oct. 13, 2015 American Alpine Club Partners with Levitation 49 to host Valdez, AK Climbing Events

Outdoor Industry News, Oct. 1, 2015, Levitation 49 Partners with National Park Service to Develop Master Rec Plan for Valdez

Valdez City News, June 15, 2015, Valdez Has a New Non-Profit. Meet Levitation 49

Valdez Star, June 3, 2015, Levitation 49 Forms to Make Sports Coalition

 

Fat Bike Summit is now Free

Levitation 49, hosts of the regional Fat Bike Summit in Valdez, March 18, have re-located the venue in order to be able to make the event free of charge.

The new venue for the Summit is The Fat Mermaid restaurant on the harbor in downtown Valdez. There will be no fee to attend the event but participants are still asked to register for a free ticket online.

"Alaska being the birthplace and capital of fat biking means we are expecting a very lively and engaging session," said Levitation 49 Executive Director Lee Hart. "We didn't want price to be a hurdle in to participation."

The Summit will be led by Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, Gary Sjoquist, who is arguably among the leading voices of fat bike advocacy. From 9 .m. to approximately 5 p.m., Summit participants will share information on trends, best practices, user conflict mitigation, advocacy and more. 

The Summit immediately precedes the opening night of the Chugach Fat Bike Bash, a three-day festival by and for fat bike enthusiasts in the beautiful port town of Valdez.