We are proud to announce a milestone. On Monday, March 31st, 2014 we submitted our 1023 Application to the IRS to become a charitable 501 C 3 non-profit organization. Yeehaw! Below is our Narrative Description of our Activities as submitted to the IRS to share with you.
But first, some background: We have spent our first year into launching a new organization and identifying gaps in the recreation economy in respect to the social, conservation and business sectors (people, planet & profit). We have identified opportunities to work in Stewardship and Education as related to our mission and to help further the Fun we produce. Our mission is stated below. Our objective is that, together, we will build stronger communities and have a good time doing it.
You’re welcome to join us for the ride.
I would like to give special thanks to April Claxton, our Executive Manager, for her dedication, determination and diligence in leading us through this whole process- of both running the business and filing our application. You are a ROCK STAR Galaxton!
We would like to thank Duane Jaeger, RE Use Works (and the cool new Ragfinery), for his guidance through the application process. His immense experience and success in founding and managing non-profits was invaluable to helping us build a solid foundation for the organization.
We could not do it without the rest of the complete Recreation Northwest CREW around the state. Supporting us all when we need it most are our incredible group of dedicated volunteers. Our events and our programs take the donated time and effort of people (like you) to enable us to throw some of the coolest events around. I am moved by the amount of dedicated people who show up to help out. Thank you to everybody who has been a part of our endeavors.
I would now like to take the time to applaud my founding Board of Directors (hip hip hooray). They give of themselves to help us create the fun we all get to have throughout the year. Each is a friend, yes, but I admire and respect them each for the unique value that they bring to our table. We have a lot on our plate in the year ahead and we have outstanding board participation and commitments to help us sustain our momentum. Our pockets aren’t deep, but our collective wisdom is widespread.
Board of Directors
Adam Lent, President
Kurt Baumgarten, Vice President
Al Ragan, Treasurer
David Laws, Secretary
(and some exciting new ones to come)
We hope you enjoy what we have to offer in 2014. Stay tuned to our blog: The Confluence
Oh yea, and like us on Facebook/Recreation Northwest
Todd Elsworth, Executive Director
Most of the Board of Directors 2014 @ Expo
This is our Narrative Description of our Activities as submitted to the IRS.
Promote outdoor recreation and bring people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. We do this through our core strategies of Stewardship, Education & Fun.
Stewardship is a critical component to maintaining our parks and trails as public agencies often do not have the resources needed for this role. Just as importantly, stewardship increases the connection people have for these places as they build ownership through direct service.
Recreation Northwest promotes stewardship through three core activities.
~ Assist with trail improvements and park stewardship.
~ Facilitate discussion and cooperation with public officials and private citizens to improve current trail networks.
~ Collaborate with our existing and potential partners to improve existing trails and to encourage new multi-use trail development.
Recreation Northwest is the Park Steward of the Fairhaven Park Forest. We host multi-sport races that use the forest trails as part of the course and we encourage our participants to volunteer their time to our organization. Fairhaven Park is a community park with access to Padden Creek that provides seasonal interest with salmon runs. The adjoining forest is an 82 acre parcel of public property that was recently purchased by the City of Bellingham. The property has seen considerable informal trail use for many years and is in need of recreational stewards of the trails and open space. Our work in 2014 will include litter clean up work parties and trail improvements. These are scheduled quarterly and the work will be done by our staff, board members and community volunteers in partnership with the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
There is not a master plan in place to guide the development of the forest. Our plans as an organization are to work with the city, neighborhood groups and our constituency to help create a comprehensive master plan for the area. This work will be done over the next couple of years. We will be able to leverage our connections with the recreational and environmental communities to have the needs for multi-use recreational access and environmental awareness addressed. We plan to work towards having easily identifiable trails and directional signage to guide people through the park and educate them on the ecological value of the area.
Recreation Northwest also has the opportunity to develop a long range plan with Whatcom County and other agencies for the proposed Cascadia Loop Trail. Currently, there is a proposed network of trails that Whatcom County Parks and Recreation has identified. Our role will be to promote the trail network to the public, support and assist public agencies in developing trails and to encourage broad community support for a system of trails that connects key natural, cultural and recreational areas.
While there are numerous hiking trails on Orcas & San Juan Islands, there is a need for multi-use, non-motorized trails. We will be working on Orcas Island in Moran State Park to identify and build needed trails to extend access to the park for multi-use- especially in the off-season. Our volunteer Adventure Race Director will take the lead and will be working with our partners, Friends of Moran State Park, to complete the work. We will be working with the San Juan Island Trails Committee to build new multi-use trails on San Juan Island in 2015. This volunteer work will be led by our Adventure Race Director and supported by staff.
Trail maintenance is currently funded from our program income, primarily our events that utilize these trail systems. We will pursue a contract with the City of Bellingham as well as grant funding to increase our work in this area, growing from 10% of staff time to at least 20%.
Trail building efforts will be funded by individual donations. Staff time will be allocated as funding allows. The work will be led by staff and a committee of board members and community volunteers.
Recreational pursuits have an impact on the landscape. Information sharing of best practices for individuals, organizations and user groups leads to improved communication and a positive user experience.
We facilitate information sharing by providing:
~ Online information about recreation & stewardship opportunities for the general public and the regional race community.
~ Resources and networking for Race Directors to be better stewards of the parks and trails they operate in.
~ Information highlighting the importance of recreation amenities, businesses and organizations to our community & local economy.
Recreation Northwest’s objective is to become a confluence for active sport user groups (mountain bikers, runners, hikers, paddlers, horsemen, etc…) and environmental organizations (RE Sources, Whatcom Land Trust, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, North Cascades Institute and other related organizations) to share their information with a wider public.
Our website, eNewsletters, use of social media and public relations will inform, educate and motivate the public to become more active in the communities in which we serve. We are also working with the various user groups to appreciate and encourage friendly multi-use of trails.
Recreation Northwest provides resources to regional Race Directors so they can be good stewards and run sustainable events. In November 2013, we hosted a free Race Director Summit for events that are held in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. With 34 race directors in attendance, we worked together to develop a shared Code of Conduct for participants as well as an Operations Standards guide for directors. We plan for this to become an annual event with an expanding scope to cover other necessary topics.
On February 13, 2014, we hosted the Recreation Northwest EXPO to enable the public to check out the best and the brightest in the local and regional outdoor recreation. This was a chance for people to connect with the resources need for a healthy year and active lifestyle. It also featured 2 local speakers sharing their stories of athletic accomplishments.
Our plans are to expand the EXPO to include a conference component to educate and empower the race director community. This will allow us to provide the needed resources and connections for race directors to share with their participants to further our mission of active stewardship and recreational advocacy.
Our Education work is done primarily by staff with some support on a volunteer basis by other Whatcom County Race Directors. Education efforts currently take-up 10% of staff time and as we increase funding through revenue from the Conference and Expo and also through a City of Bellingham contract or Whatcom Community Foundation Grant that will increase to 20%
There are many benefits for both adults and children to get outside and have fun: active, healthy lifestyles; community, confidence and skill building; and an appreciation for the places they play.
We provide opportunities for fun through:
~ Athletic events that highlight local parks and trails.
~ Group runs, rides and paddles to encourage healthy lifestyles.
~ Encouraging participants of our races to give back by volunteering.
Recreation Northwest hosts events in the State of Washington to encourage people to get out and play. While our races offer competition, they focus on community building, stewardship and above all: fun. Our materials and messaging encourages participants to be good stewards, to volunteer at other events and to show respect for the trails & parks in their communities. Our courses highlight the recreation amenities and areas of the communities- often times bringing attention to lesser known areas. We leverage our events to highlight the possibility for new trails and to demonstrate the value of open space- motivating action for preservation.
The Northwest Traverse Series comprises 4 multi-sport races that include running, mountain biking, road biking and paddling- hosted in the cities of Winthrop, Olympia, North Bend and Bellingham. The course and race philosophy is to celebrate the life-cycle of wild salmon demonstrating the natural and urban challenges fish face in their journey.
As a complement to the series, we also host the Bellingham KIDS Traverse that includes running, mountain biking and an obstacle course for children ages 6- 12 years old.
The Quest Adventure Races includes 2 multi-sport races that include trail running, mountain biking, paddling and orienteering- hosted in the San Juan Islands and Whatcom County.
2014 Event Schedule
Thursday, February 13th, Recreation Northwest EXPO
Saturday, June 14th, Winthrop Traverse
Saturday, June 21st, Kulshan Quest
Sunday, June 29th, Bellingham Kids Traverse
Saturday, July 26th, Olympia Traverse
Saturday, September 6th, North Bend Traverse
Saturday, September 20th, Bellingham Traverse
Saturday, September 27th, San Juan Island Quest
November, Race Director Summit
In each of our communities we will be offering free group rides, runs and paddles to give people the opportunity to check out the course, build their skills, get outside, be active and have fun.
Through our website, e-mail newsletters and social media channels we encourage our participants to volunteer at other community events as well as trail improvement work parties.
All our of our races are led by a volunteer Race Director, volunteer committees and hundreds of volunteers. About 60% of our total Recreation Northwest staff time is currently dedicated to event management. All of our events are self-supporting financially and also generate funding to support our stewardship work. As we secure more donations, grant and contract funding for stewardship and education efforts we will increase staff time in those areas so that total staff time will decrease to about 40% for event management.
Recreation Northwest staff have a strong background in event management and were able to take over management of the 12 year old Bellingham Traverse, 4 year old Olympia Traverse and 6 year old San Juan Island Quest. Using this foundation we are growing the organization first through events to ensure we can support minimal staff & operations through earned income. We can now use this base and a strong community reputation to layer in more hands-on education and stewardship programs funded through individual donations, local government contracts and grant funding. We are also able to leverage the support of a very dedicated Board of Directors, community partners, local businesses, over 200 event volunteers and over 2000 event participants as volunteers and community advocates for the stewardship of local trails and parks.
Mountain bike clinics for kids with a focus on skill building as well as trail stewardship.
Kids Traverse events in Winthrop, Olympia & North Bend.
Outdoor programs and events for active matures and seniors.
Natural History Tours of Whatcom County (walking, biking and paddling).
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.