BY STEVE McCADAMS

POST-INTELLIGENCER

Tennessee is home to one of the most popular attractions in the National Parks system, as the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is indeed a gem.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt last week announced the annual U.S. economic benefit of national parks and local economies.

In 2019, visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs.

Visitor spending increased by $800 million from 2018 to 2019, and the overall effect on the U.S economy grew by $1.6 billion.

In the last five years, visitor spending has increased by $4.1 billion and the effect on the U.S. economy grew by $9.7 billion.

“We have been working to safely welcome the public back to their national parks and provide more service again,” Bernhardt said.

“These treasured places provide respite and recreation for the American people, in addition to vital economic support to gateway communities across the country.

“The tremendous value of our national parks is undeniable, as is the need to adequately maintain them, which is why President Donald Trump has called on Congress to address the decades of deferred maintenance.”

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, totaling $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effect with $4.2 billion in economic output.

Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion.

There are National Park System sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam.

Last year, Grand Canyon National Park attracted nearly 6 million visitors, who spent more than $890 million, supporting 11,806 jobs and generating a $1.1 billion total economic output.

CRAPPIE USA TOURNEY STARTS TODAY

Crappie anglers from several states will travel here today and Saturday to fish both Kentucky and Barkley lakes for a Crappie USA Tournament Trail event presented by Bass Pro Shops Cabela’s.

Unlike other CUSA events, the Mega Bucks anglers compete in only one division.

This two-day competition is designed to satisfy the more competitive angler’s desire to compete on a higher level. All anglers will compete in the same division.

Local and traveling anglers will be vying for cash, prizes and an opportunity to compete at the 2020 Crappie USA Classic.

Because of the loss of some events this spring to the COVID-19 outbreak, CUSA will be qualifying 40 teams for the Classic from this event.

Anglers fishing the Mega Bucks event will be testing their crappie fishing skills against top-level anglers and whatever Mother Nature has in store.

The entry fee is $375 with a guaranteed payback of $25,000. As the boat numbers rise, so does the payout.

Teams may consist of one or two anglers, with a third member allowed if the angler is under the age of 16 years old.

Early registration can be accomplished on the CUSA website at www.crappieusa.com/Tournament_Registration.cfm, or by calling (502) 384-5924.

Entry fees vary by length of tournament. All fees are posted on the website link above. Late entries are subject to a $25 late fee.

Participating anglers must be a member of the American Crappie Association (ACA).

Sign up at www.crappieusa.com/Membership_Information.cfm, where the various levels of membership are available.

FISHING BOATING EASE STRESS, ETC.

As COVID-19 continues to wear on Americans’ mental health, Take Me Fishing and Discover Boating are launching a new public service campaign called Get On Board to raise awareness about the wellness benefits of fishing and boating.

The campaign is informed by the latest consumer research from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), the national nonprofit organization behind the Take Me Fishing brand.

According to the current Special Report on Fishing, “relaxing and unwinding” is the No. 1 experience associated with the activity.

The report also found that nearly one in three participants said the best thing about fishing is “getting away from the usual demands of life.”

“Fishing isn’t just about the fish,” said Stephanie Vatalaro, senior vice president of marketing and communications for RBFF. “People have long turned to fishing and boating for stress relief.

“Given the uncertainty in today’s world, there’s something uniquely appealing about the calming effect of the water. For many people, fishing and boating are lifelines to mental health and wellness.”

Additional data suggest that interest in fishing and boating has continued to grow amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent poll, one in five Americans said they’re more likely now to try the activities than they were prior to the pandemic. Among parents, the statistic is one in four.

“The outdoors is a welcome remedy to stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Sue Varma, a nationally recognized psychiatrist partnering with Take Me Fishing.

“Being in nature supports each of the four Ms of mental health: mindfulness, mastery, meaningful engagement and movement.

“Fishing in particular encourages mindfulness by helping you get away from distractions, it supports mastery by teaching you a new skill, it provides meaningful engagement through quality time with others you may be quarantining with and it promotes physical movement by getting you outside without requiring a strenuous workout.

“Looking at fishing from a psychiatrist’s perspective, it’s a smart way to follow social-distancing guidelines while prioritizing your health and wellness.”

Those interested in joining the Get On Board movement can visit www.TakeMeFishing.org/GetOnBoard or www.DiscoverBoating.com and use the social media hashtag #TheWaterIsOpen.

Website resources include how-to guides for getting started fishing and boating, an interactive map of places to fish as well as local water-access updates to help people recreate responsibly.

“Whoever you are, we could all use a little encouragement right now,” Vatalaro said.

“Whether you’re experienced at fishing and boating or a complete newcomer, now’s a great time to gear up, get out and leave worry in your wake.

“The water is open to everyone, and we’re all invited to heed the call and Get On Board.”

APPLY FOR WMA QUOTA HUNTS

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the application period for the 2020 Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Big Game Quota Hunts, the regular elk, youth elk and WMA youth is now under way through 11:59 p.m. July 22.

The WMA hunting instruction sheet lists locations and dates for each of the quota hunts along with drawing rules and regulations.

Instruction sheets can be obtained and applications made for the hunts at any TWRA license agent, TWRA regional office or online at www.gooutdoorstennessee.com. Mailed applications will not be processed into the drawing system.

There is no fee for current Annual Sportsman License holders, Lifetime Sportsman License holders or seniors possessing a Type 167 Annual Senior Citizen Sportsman License.

For all other applicants, there is a non-refundable $12 permit fee for each drawing entered. There is a $1 agent fee for applications made at a license agent.

For applications made on the Internet, there is a $2 Internet usage fee. If entering multiple quota hunts, a person must pay the permit and agent fee(s) for each quota hunt application submitted.

The WMA (elk hunts excluded) priority point system gives a priority point for each year a hunter participates (this year, a maximum of 13 points) without being successfully drawn for a hunt.

Applicants drawn for a hunt last year will start over with a priority of zero.

After all the drawings are conducted, leftover permits will be sold on-line on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. on Aug. 26.

The state’s 12th gun elk hunt will be held Oct. 10-16 with seven individuals selected to participate. Six of the participants will be selected through a computer drawing conducted by the TWRA.

The seventh participant will be the recipient of a permit that is donated to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. That permit will be issued in a raffle for the third year.

FAVORITE FISHING QUOTATIONS

Each week, I’ll be listing a quote from the book: The Angler’s Guide of Favorite Fishing Quotations. It’s an inspired collection of wit and wisdom for those who love to fish.

It’s a nice collection for any fishermen’s bookshelf and available for $12.50 from Penguin Random House by emailing customerservice@penguinrandsomehouse.com or calling (800)-733-3000.

“Lives are measured by the friends you make along the way, and the friends you make through fishing always seem to stick around through the rise and fall of the stock markets, divorces, hurricanes, accidents and injuries, good times and bad.” — Pat Ford.

FISHING COMMENTS SOUGHT

TWRA will host three Facebook Live events in July to talk with anglers and get feedback about fishing in Tennessee.

The three events will be generally focused on East, Middle and West regions of the state, and general comments or questions will be taken prior or during any meeting.

TWRA welcomes the public to provide any comments or questions in advance of the events to ask.twra@tn.gov, or on Facebook or Instagram via direct message prior to and during the events.

“We want to hear what people are experiencing on the water, what they like and don’t like, and any questions they might have,” said Frank Fiss, TWRA Fisheries chief.

“We will have our local Fisheries managers available to answer questions during the event and do our best to answer questions live.”

The schedule of public meetings are as follows and can all be watched live on Facebook or can be watched the recording afterward on any of our social media channels:

• July 9, 6:30 p.m. CDT to discuss fishing in Middle Tennessee.

• July 14, 6:30 p.m. CDT to discuss fishing in West Tennessee.

• July 16, 5:30 p.m. CDT to discuss fisheries in East Tennessee.

All meetings can easily be attended virtually and seen live on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tnwildlife. TWRA encourages everyone to watch live and send in questions or comments before or during the meeting.

There is no other option to attend these meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and social-distancing requirements.

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