Recreational opportunities are a key asset for our region and there is an abundance thanks to the beautiful rivers that wind through and border our communities.
Residents and visitors are afforded great opportunities to enjoy numerous outdoor adventures and wonderful wildlife habitats thanks to our dams. Lending greatly to the quality of life we enjoy, these also are an important attraction for tourists.
This is great news for all of us as tourism is a significant economic driver in our region, equating to nearly half a billion dollars annually in economic impact and over 6,100 tourism-related jobs.
Thanks to our dams, families and individuals are able to enjoy numerous water recreational activities like power boating and sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, tubing, swimming and camping on and along the river.
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Our dams provide deep waters that make many of these activities possible, adding to the allure of our region and increasing quality of life. Water enthusiasts also enjoy many water sports there, including rafting and relaxing float trips.
Thanks to the lakes created by our dams, fishing is also a popular and accessible recreational activity. Seasoned anglers, as well as amateurs frequently fish for bass, walleye and chinook salmon among others.
Many anglers enjoy the thrill of sturgeon fishing and the physical demands it requires to reel in a 6’ fish weighing in at several hundred pounds.
Dam tours present another educational and recreational activity. Watching the fish ladders, seeing fish through the viewing windows at the visitor center, and realizing the awesome power created by turbines via self-guided tours provide an incredible STEM educational opportunity for youth and adults alike.
Dams create unique habitats along our shorelines and because of this, ecotourism abounds.
There are great opportunities to hike along our riverbanks to see river otters at play, blue herons perching on rocks, majestic pelicans dipping for snacks, eagles swooping down for the catch of the day, or great migrations of waterfowl circling in groups looking for the perfect spot on the river to rest.
Thanks to our dams, we also have many acres of irrigated crops, which provide several farm-to-table restaurant options in our region. In addition, we have several farmers markets for all to enjoy.
So, go ahead, have some fun. Get out there and enjoy the recreational opportunities that are right here in our backyard, thanks to our beautiful rivers and the increased opportunities we are able to enjoy thanks to our dams.
Michael Novakovich is president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities.