Montana State Parks is seeking comments on its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

If you live in Montana and are involved in outdoor recreation, take the time to review the Montana Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, also known as SCORP.

Titled “Sustaining Montana’s Outdoor Recreation Legacy 2020-2024”, the new SCORP is a planning document that offers a five-year strategic framework to identify trends, issues, and challenges facing the state’s outdoor recreation and natural resources, and provides recommendations for outdoor recreation priorities across the state.

Public comments on the document will be accepted through Oct. 17 at 5 p.m.

The new SCORP identified six goals and recommendations:

• Promote outdoor recreation opportunities for all Montanans.

To increase persons with disabilities participation in outdoor recreation, a statewide inventory of outdoor recreation opportunities is needed.

• Enhance public access to outdoor recreation resources and facilities.

In an effort to develop public information tools to better illustrate public access areas, a central outdoor recreation asset, multi-layer map system is needed. This would allow for greater transparency in regards to what recreation opportunities are available and where. Ideally, this multi-layer system would display maps from all participating agencies including FWP, BLM, USFS, NPS and include county and city level data as well.

There is a need for a “one stop shop” for community and outdoor recreation leaders to find grants, resources, and a network of people in the state who are working through similar challenges.

• Support the economic vitality of communities and the state. 

To continue the momentum of the Office of Outdoor Recreation, additional funding and staffing should be considered. 

The creation of a coordinated recreation event calendar could assist in increasing awareness of the happenings.

Lastly, partnerships between private, state, tribal, and federal entities should be created and enhanced to identify and capitalize on shared opportunities to promote outdoor recreation in Montana.

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• Improve quality of life through outdoor recreation experiences.

The outdoor recreation community should integrate into the workplace and develop partnerships that connects health promotion programs to outdoor recreation opportunities.

• Adapt outdoor recreation for a changing environment.

To help adapt to changing climates, a cross jurisdictional hazard preparedness plan and redirection plan for outdoor recreation opportunities should be developed on a regional and statewide scale.

• Honor Montana’s outdoor legacy.

Outdoor recreation planning should balance user demands with fish, wildlife, and their habitats and promote healthy ecological functioning. Across our facilitated group discussions, participants echoed the need to “protect” “conserve” “maintain” and “restore” the natural environment of Montana.

A collaborative strategy should be developed with tribal members and organizations for managing, interpreting, and sharing the value of Montana’s cultural heritage and historic sites. In addition, tribal voices should be integrated in statewide outdoor recreation planning efforts in the future.

This statewide draft plan was developed through a collaborative process between Montana State Parks, the University of Montana, and the SCORP Advisory Council, which was comprised of outdoor recreation representatives from the public and private sectors, including local, state and federal agencies, and advocacy groups.

The University of Montana held three facilitated group discussions in Billings, Butte, and Kalispell in March. The discussions were attended by more than 150 people. The purpose of the meetings was to ask outdoor recreation leaders and interested citizens to identify the needs, demands, and vision for outdoor recreation in Montana. Results from the group discussions were paired with existing recreation data to establish the plan’s goals and recommendations.

In addition to its value as a planning document, the completion of a SCORP is required of every state to be eligible for Land and Water Conservation Funds. Since 1965, Montana has received more than $38 million from this federally funded program supporting outdoor recreation projects in Montana communities. 

To view the complete 2020-2024 SCORP visit: http://stateparks.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/board/pn_0021.html.

Comments may be made online at stateparks.mt.gov – click on ‘Public Comment & Notices” on the right-hand task bar.

The public may also send comments by mail to: Montana State Parks, Draft 2020-2024 SCORP Public Comment, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

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