Venue abbreviations: Northern Susitna Institute (NSI), Sheldon Community Arts Hangar (AH), Wildflower Cafe (Hangar) ,Denali Brewpub (DB) and Talkeetna Roadhouse (RH)

Wednesday, Sept. 25

12:30 - 1 pm Check-In for afternoon activities (NSI)

1 - 5 p.m. Recreational Activities (meet at NSI; you’ll be taken to various locations)

3 - 5 p.m. Specialized Workshops; check in at 2:30 p.m. (NSI)

  • Outdoors by the Numbers: Bringing the State’s Economic Impact Analysis to Life (NSI). Richelle Johnson. The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development estimates that in-state consumer spending related to outdoor recreation trips amounts to nearly $3.2 billion annually. That spending creates about about one job in ten in Alaska tied to trip-related outdoor recreation spending. Lead Analyst Richelle Johnson will go into detail about the numbers, what they mean to our state and how you can put the numbers to work for your efforts.

  • Trails Initiative Workshop, led by Chris Beck, Alaska Trails/Agnew Beck with Diana Rhodes of Anchorage Parks Foundation (NSI)

    Over the last year a growing group of businesses, agencies, non-profits and trail organizations have worked with a shared belief: Alaska has barely tapped our state’s remarkable outdoor resources, and with smart investments we could build a stronger, more durable AK economy.  This is a work-in-progress trails initiative, and we want your ideas and assistance!  In this “deep dive” session we’ll share progress to date, and work together to further expand and refine the Initiative’s primary objectives, including:

    • Economic and other benefits of trails in general

    • Select “Feature Trails” projects (trails, huts, marketing) with strong support, real benefits and momentum

    • Policies for improved land management and expanded funding

    Hikers, bikers, snowmachiners, nordic skiers, trail runners, dog walkers and anyone else who loves trails: We’d love to hear your thinking, and get you involved as we further build the coalition for action.  Check out a copy of our draft report at

6:30 Evening Check-In and Libations, Denali Brew Pub (DB)

Thursday, Sept. 26

7:30 - 8:00 Check in & breakfast begins (NSI)

8:00 - 9:45 Welcome and Keynote Breakfast: Strengthening Gateway Communities (NSI). Mark Preiss, Zion Forever; Stephan Nofield, National Park Service; James King US Forest Service; Mandy DeCroo, BLM; and Ricky Gease, Alaska State Parks and Joe Meehan, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. At the gateway to Zion National Park, Springdale Utah (pop. 529) is pioneering an innovative approach to public-private partnering and collaborative planning. In just its first year, Zion Forever, the non-profit partner of Zion, Cedar Breaks and Pipe Spring National Monuments established a new set of initiatives that yielded unprecedented results that funded 25 top-priority projects amounting to $1 million in investment in the three national park units. Learn how they did it, the definition of “margin of excellence” projects and more from Mark Preiss, the director of the Zion Forever project.

Following Mark’s presentation, representatives of public land agencies will describe gateway community partnership opportunities for Alaska.

10:00 - 11:00 Transportation Allies: Land, Sea and Air (NSI). Presented by the Alaska Travel Industry Association with John Binkley, CLIA Alaska; Scott Habberstad, Alaska Airlines; Dale Wade, Alaska Railroad; and facilitated by Sarah Leonard, ATIA. Our transportation allies help connect people, places and opportunities that support economic prosperity and well-being. Working in conjunction with local governments, trade associations, and other community stakeholders, these leaders strive to promote sustainable tourism by contributing to communities in a positive social, environmental and economic manner. In this panel discussion, ATIA board members who are also top executives of our state’s air, rail and cruise lines will shed light on opportunities to collaborate on such topics as new product development, marketing and more.

11:15 - 12:15 - Bikes, Birds and Beyond, Programmatic Partnerships. (NSI) A potpourri of winning ideas that your community can implement will be shared during your choice of these two breakout sessions:

Option: Programmatic Opportunities (NSI main): Jodi Rodwell, Denali Education Center; Natalie Dawson, Audubon Alaska; and Maeve Lavtar, Municipality of Anchorage.

Option Bike Economy (NSI aux): Laurel Harkness, Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals; Christina Grande, Alaska Bike Adventures; and Shawn Thelen, North Shore Cyclery.

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch Keynote: US Cultural and Native Travel Trends Come to Alaska (AH). Camille Ferguson, US Travel Association/AIANTA/Sitka Tribe. While continued strength of the U.S. dollar, prolonged and rising trade tensions, and stiff competition from rivals for tourism business is having a chilling impact on international inbound travel there is a reason for optimism, especially in Alaska. Interest in cultural and native tourism is on the rise. Is your community a gateway to these opportunities? What opportunities are there to partner with Alaska Native entities? Before coming home to lead Sitka Tribes’ economic development efforts, Camille Ferguson was instrumental in gaining national support for the passage of the Native American Improving Visitors Experience( NATIVE) Act, formalized relationships with the Departments of Interior, Commerce and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to and secured funding for the mandate through 2024.

2 - 3:15 pm Breakout Deep Dives: Programmatic Partnerships

All About Bikes, Shawn Thelen, Laurel Harkness, Christina Grande, facilitated by Erin Dovichin @ Denali Brewhall

Zero Landfill - Birds - Healing Trail, facilitated by Steve Cohn @ Wildflower Cafe

Gateway Communities facilitated by Sarah Leonard @ Talkeetna Roadhouse

3:30 - 4:45 pm Breakout Deep Dives: Gateway Communities & Public Lands - RH, WF, DB

  1. National Park Service Opportunities, facilitated by Erin Dovichin @ Denali Brewpub

  2. USFS and BLM Opportunities, facilitated by Steve Cohn @ Wildflower Cafe

  3. State Parks/State Fish & Game Opportunities, facilitated by Erin Dovichin @ Talkeetna Roadhouse

5:30 - 7 pm A-Mazing! - All hands on deck! All conference attendees can pitch in on a service project with Maeve Lavtar and Denali Education Center to create a labyrinth for Talkeetna @ (NSI).

7:30 - 9 pm Dinner & Behind the Scenes with Molly of Denali (AH). An intimate conversation with creative producer Princess Johnson and scriptwriter Vera Starbard. (Hangar)

Friday, Sept. 27

7:30 - 8 am Check in & Breakfast begins

8 a.m. - 9:30 Keynote Breakfast: State and Congressional Legislative Forecasts (NSI)

9:45 - 11:00 National and State Policy Directions (NSI). Marc Berejka, REI Co-Op, Andrew Pappas, Outdoor Industry Association. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the nation’s outdoor recreation industry represents $412 billion/2.2 percent of US Gross Domestic Product and 4.5 million jobs. With this realization, Congress and individual states are beginning to pass policies, and create cabinet level positions to strengthen the sector and unleash its full economic potential. We’ll get a recap of which outdoor industry-friendly bills have passed have passed this year or are still pending in DC. Then we’ll get a snapshot of what policies and initiatives and netting early positive returns for the 15 states that have created Offices of Outdoor Recreation.

11:15 -  12:15 Policy Pitch Session (NSI).

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch & Fresh Perspectives (Hangar)

2:00 - 3:15 The Way Forward: Statewide Solutions

3:15 -  3:30 Break 

3:30 - 4:30 The Way Forward: Wrap Up and Industry Next Steps (NSI)

Optional: Farewell Happy Hour at Denali BrewPub

*Minor agenda changes may occur