Photos: Wildfire Chokes Outdoor Tourism Prospects in Western US
By Valli Meenakshi Ramanathan | Aug 19, 2012 08:37 PM EDT
Apart from destroying hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of parched forest, the wildfires sweeping the western United States, encroached national parks, recreation sites, and campgrounds thereby, adding to woes of communities dependent on summer tourism.
As U.S. Forest Service firefighters waged a long battle against wildfires that scorched 80,000 acres of mountain pine forests, prospects of tourism appeared blunted as the fires curtail trips on rivers where river rafting drew international crowd from June to August, Reuters reported.
In fact, tourists who booked rafting trips in advance cancelled their reservations as forests were cut off by road blockade and smoky haze.
Earlier, close to 300 Middle Fork rafters were stranded northwest of Salmon by wildfires grazing east central Idaho after falling rock closed the only road to the site.
Fires are burning out of control across Western states including California, Reuters continued.
Though outdoor recreation appeared optimistic last year as number of Americans engaging in recreation began to rise and local communities began to reinvent themselves as gateways to natural resources that attracted visitors, recent fires have definitely taken a toll on tourism.
Estimates from the Outdoor Industry Association pegs the tourism potential from Idaho, Colorado and California over $35 million annually, Reuters added.
Details of tourism losses due to fires and other natural disasters are yet to be made available. However, losses owing to fires and cancellations seem to have spooked tour operators.
In 2012, wildfires burnt 6.5 million acres across United States about 1.5 million acres more than 10-year average for this time of year, National Interagency Fire Center stated.
U.S. Forest Service firefighters work on the Springs Fire in Boise National Forest near Banks-Garden Valley, Idaho in this Aug. 13, 2012 photograph made available to Reuters on Aug. 17, 2012. The Idaho blaze, sparked by a utility vehicle that caught fire, has charred nearly 70,000 acres of sagebrush and woodlands east of Boise over the past six days, burning a rental cabin and six non-residential structures, authorities said.Source: Reuters/ US Forest Service/ Ha Date:08/19/2012
A U.S. Forest Service firefighter fights the blaze at the Springs Fire in Boise National Forest near Banks-Garden Valley, Idaho in this August 13, 2012 photograph made available to Reuters on August 17, 2012.Source: Reuters/ US Forest Service/ Ha Date:08/19/2012
Smoke from the Trinity Ridge fire rises into the sky by Anderson Ranch reservoir in Pine, Idaho, August 15, 2012.Source: Reuters Date:08/19/2012
A general view of the incident command center for the Trinity Ridge Fire outside Pine, Idaho August 15, 2012.Source: Reuters Date:08/19/2012