Opening gates to private lands. Public access to private lands is one of the most controversial issues in the West. Now entrepreneurs are bringing the sharing economy to the access debate. EntryG8.com is an online marketplace that allows landowners to list properties that guests can use for hunting, fishing, or other recreational activities by paying a trespass fee. A similar platform, WikiparX, allows landowners to sell permits for many forms of recreational access. These approaches are helping turn access conflicts into cooperation between property owners and recreationists.
Start them young. Sumner Rahr, a 16-year-old high school student from Portland, recently launched the Oregon Youth Venture Fund, a nonprofit that empowers Oregon high schoolers to develop their own small businesses. The fund will provide grants to student entrepreneurs, including a $4,000 award to students who develop private-sector solutions to protect the environment. The first grants will be awarded in early 2019. Environmental entrepreneurs like Rahr—or “enviropreneurs,” as we call them—are finding creative ways to use markets to enhance environmental quality. And innovative student-run programs like this give us hope and inspiration for the future.
One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure. But a recent report by Ensia on landfill mining takes that old adage to a new level. The practice dates back to a 1953 project in Israel, which dug up fertilizer for orchards from decomposing trash. Today, a project in Escambia County, Florida, aims to eliminate old garbage and clear landfill space while also extracting valuable resources to offset its costs. Sometimes the economics of trash-harvesting don’t pencil out. But with technological advancements and price changes in response to scarcity, we may one day view landfills not as the final destination for garbage, but as reservoirs for future resource extraction.
States search for creative ways to pay for outdoor rec. On election day, Georgia voters passed an amendment that will funnel up to 80 percent of the existing state sales tax on outdoor gear toward land, water, and wildlife. The ballot initiative comes as Wyoming’s legislature considers a $10 annual pass that would fund much-needed upkeep for trails used by hikers, bikers, and other non-motorized recreationists. In September, PERC hosted leaders from the outdoor recreation industry, sportsmen groups, and state and federal agencies at a workshop in Paradise Valley to explore ways for recreationists to help fund public lands.
The return of the king. Lions have come back to Mozambique’s Marromeu Ecosystem after being driven out during decades of war. Earlier this year, two dozen lions were purchased in South Africa and flown to Mozambique by Twenty Four Lions, a consortium made up of the Cabela Family Foundation, Ivan Carter Wildlife Foundation, and Zambezi Delta Safaris, a commercial hunting outfitter. Two prides were released into a wildland roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park and have now begun to breed. The hope is that the lions, which will not be hunted, will help keep the region’s abundant big-game populations in check.
Luring anglers to save loons. Ingesting fishing tackle made of lead is the leading cause of death among loons in New Hampshire. When banning lead lures failed to give a lifeline to the aquatic birds, PERC enviropreneur Brett Howell worked with the Loon Preservation Committee and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to try a new approach: a buyback program. Over the summer, anglers who turned in at least an ounce of lead tackle received a $10 gift certificate to purchase non-toxic alternatives at partner shops. The program removed more than 3,000 pieces of lead tackle from state waters, providing safer habitat for loons.
Call it a comeback. Wood bison were one of the first animals listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s, but by the 1990s, they had disappeared from Alaska. Now, the species is on the road to recovery thanks to a reintroduction effort backed by Safari Club International Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and other partners. In 2015, the collaboration brought 130 Canadian wood bison to the Innoko Valley, demonstrating how public-private partnerships can help recover listed species. The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the bison’s status to determine whether its threatened listing is still necessary.
If you build it, will they come? Private investors are anteing up to help build 88 miles of mountain bike trails in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. Using a “pay for success” model, the National Forest Foundation has negotiated with Quantified Ventures, an impact investing firm, to help provide the upfront capital. The deal will finance construction of a new trail system that will wind through 9,000 acres of forestland. In return, investors will get a percentage of increased economic activity in the region as measured by growth in visitation, higher tax revenues, and more registered businesses. The project demonstrates a new model for funding public land needs.