Tyler Ray of Granite Outdoor Alliance, left, and Outdoor Czar Scott Crowder are pictured on the Saco River. Paula Tracy Fotoracy
By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
NORTH CONWAY – About 50 of the state’s outdoor executives headed to the sunny but rain-swollen Saco River on Wednesday to paddle six miles through fast water, then have dinner and network around a fire pit on a beach along its banks.
The event was launched by the Granite Outdoor Alliance, https://www.graniteoutdooralliance.org/, whose mission is to sustainably grow the outdoor economy in New Hampshire. It was an opportunity for many to meet the state’s new foreign tsar for the first time.
The paddling event, titled “Rocktails & Streams: Dinner on the Saco,” was a fundraising and networking opportunity for the Granite Outdoor Alliance, with Beach Family Camping on 776 White Mountain Highway providing the canoes, paintwork and beach for the gathering And the Bethlehem Brewery, which provides the food and drink.
Scott Crowder has only been on the job for four months and is the country’s 16th outdoor director with a young family in Merrimack.
Crowder got out of the canoe with others to collect trash along the swallow-lined sand cliffs. The swimmers appeared to be deserted and the deflated plastic water swimmers were found on the sandy shores.
The group cruised their canoes over rocks and underwater trees along a wild side of North Conway that many had never seen before while taking in the views of the Moat Mountain Range, White Horse Cliff and the verdant ski slopes at Mount Cranmore Resort enjoyed.
Among the paddlers was Senator David Watters, D-Dover, who had just returned from Colorado for a national conference on environmental innovation. He is an advocate for the outdoor industry in the state.
Enjoy “Rocktails & Streams: Dinner on the Saco” Paula Tracy Fotoracy
There were other leaders in many regional and local nonprofits such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. The six miles from the first bridge to the Beach Camping area paddled members of the retail, trade associations, hospitality and advocacy industries for professional tour guides, the ski and snowboard industry, and those who provide retail products for the industry.
Crowder is on a networking tour of the state, he said, to find out what the government needs.
InDepthnh.org will interview him in the fall to see what he has learned from his rounds and which initiatives he will support.
Economic development, conservation, infrastructure development including manpower housing and business connectivity are all included in the job description. He noted that Arkansas is now the 17th state in the nation to have created a similar position.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the establishment of the outdoor recreation office within the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism in June.
“Rocktails & Streams: Dinner on the Saco” Paula Tracy Fotoracy
Crowder knows the Lakes Region well, having grown up on Lake Winnipesaukee in the summer and as the founder of the successful Pond Hockey Classic every winter. He has been a member of the Lake Region Tourism Association for 10 years.
Crowder grew up in both Nashua and Lake Winnipesaukee and was elected as the new – and it’s a long title – director of Leisure Industry Development in the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs.
Funding for the position came from a federal grant to Northern Borders received from the congressional delegation to promote economic development in rural areas. The implementation of the new outer arm was slowed down by the pandemic.
In some states, the Foreign Czar’s offices are affiliated with conservation or parks, but in Granite State the job is part of the Tourism and Economic Development Wing under the direction of Taylor Caswell, Commissioner for the State Department of Business and Economic Affairs.
New Hampshire’s outdoor industry provides approximately 37,000 jobs and provides in the range of $ 528 million in local taxes annually, according to a study by the Granite Outdoor Alliance.
Tourists from other states as well as residents enjoy the outdoor resources, making it a draw for young adults to raise their children, hike, ski, go boating, and enjoy the varied seasons and landscape options.
It’s important that it stay the gem that it is, Crowder said.