Valdez Mayor Ruth Knight, left, joins Lee Hart in welcoming keynote Luis Benitez, head of Colorado's Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry.
Luis Benitez, Director of Colorado's Office of Outdoor Recreation Economy, set the tone for the meeting with inspiring personal stories and his belief that greater investment in outdoor recreation can be a force for good delivering economic, health and social benefits for states and rural communities.
Confluence legislative champion Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins came to the conference with intriguing ideas. A canceled flight prevented Representatives Garan Tarr and Andy Josephson as well as Darren Breese on behalf of Rep. George Rauscher. A mini-summit occurred at the Ravn gate at Ted Stevens International Airport including Tarr, Josephson and State Parks Director Ethan Tyler, Alaska Trails Executive Director Andy Cleary, Alaska Huts Executive Director Tom Callahan and Salmon State's Rachel James. Congressman Don Young's State Director Chad Padgett was also registered but had to attend to an urgent family matter.
Cailin O'Brien-Feeney shared the latest Outdoor Industry Association Recreation Economy national and state data and examples successful state funding mechanisms to support Offices of Outdoor Recreation.
Alta Planning & Design's Fred Young shared ideas for creative financing of outdoor recreation initiatives and infrastructure.
Agnew Beck Consulting founder Chris Beck provided examples of partnerships benefitting outdoor recreation.
Nate Seivert, representing Alaska Huts and the Trans-Alaska Trail, introduced some bold ideas.
Natural Resources Technician Ray Stickwan shared Ahtna perspectives.
There were excellent one-on-one and small group discussions during Confluence. Here, Valdez City Manager Elke Doom discusses the possibilities for outdoor recreation development with Levitation 49 president Andy Shidner.
Meaningful conversations took place over lunch. From left, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Ira Slomski-Pritz, Darwin Peterson, Cailin O'Brien-Feeney (obscured), Lee Hart, Luis Benitez, Scott Kendall.
Small group discussions dug deep into infrastructure opportunities, challenges and solutions.
Former Valdez City Councilman Ryan McCune shared his dream for potential ski area development.