National Geographic Partners With Oregon and Washington to Launch Geotourism Project for Central Cascades

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ — National Geographic Society’s Center
for Sustainable Destinations has joined organizations in Washington and Oregon
to publicize the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Central
Cascades. The pilot project seeks to contribute to the economic health of
communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains and enhances the
geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics,
heritage and the well-being of its residents.




A community-based nomination process launched today will be used to create
a National Geographic “Geotourism MapGuide” for the region. The “Central
Cascades” area designated for the map stretches from Mount Rainier National
Park to Crater Lake National Park, including communities plus private and
public lands in both states. The printed Central Cascades MapGuide will be
available in September 2009. A parallel interactive Web site is also being

“From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, the spectacular beauty and
recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique,” said James
Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations. “National
Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in
doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the

Residents and visitors are invited to nominate for inclusion in the
MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and local businesses
that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal. Nominations may be
made through March 29, 2009, at The site
nomination process was opened today at a reception in Portland, where Dion
officially announced the Central Cascades Geotourism Initiative and asked for
public participation.

Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities
throughout the Central Cascades to encourage nominations and community

“Because those who live and recreate here know it best, participation by
local residents is critical to the project’s success,” said Todd Davidson, CEO
of Travel Oregon. “Our goal is to get nominations from across the region that
identify the things people love best about the Cascades; those ‘gotta see,
gotta go’ places we are most enthusiastic to share with visitors.”

Beyond open-to-the-public map point nomination, the MapGuide development
process calls for oversight by a regional committee. The Central Cascades
Stewardship Council was formed and met for the first time in Stevenson, Wash.,
on Dec. 4, 2008. It represents geotourism perspectives that include community
leadership, historic preservation, natural resources, public lands management,
indigenous peoples, traditional and local arts, agriculture, tourism promotion
and local businesses.

“An inherent benefit of geotourism is connecting diverse interests under a
common goal,” continued Dion. “The design of the MapGuide process,
specifically in forming a regional stewardship council, encourages and builds
mutually beneficial partnerships.”

A primary task for the Stewardship Council will be to review and sort
nomination submissions prior to sending them to National Geographic. National
Geographic will have final say on the selected sites, an estimated total of
150 map points.

Washington and Oregon both seek to grow rural tourism under their economic
development strategies. They also acknowledge the sensitive balance between
growth and conservation, particularly in the Central Cascades region. Both
states look to identify and develop product that would be attractive to a
“geotourist” as a means to achieve balanced economic growth.

“Stimulating economic growth in the Central Cascades by encouraging
geotourism efforts is a win-win,” explained Marsha Massey, executive director,
Washington State Tourism. “The potential for the region to be sought out for
its intrinsic assets is tremendous.”

According to a 2002 study by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the
U.S. Travel Association, more than 55 million adults in the United States
could be described as “geotourists,” who travel to enjoy the distinctive
character of places and want them to stay appealing. These travelers control
more than half the household income of all U.S. travelers.

Additional perceived benefits of the MapGuide include calling forth the
themes that are important to conserving the gems of the region; laying the
groundwork for future collaboration of individual, business, community and
conservation interests; building pride in the region and its communities; and
inspiring stewardship of the region.

The National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations is
providing overall project direction under Jonathan Tourtellot, the center’s
director. National Geographic Maps, led by chief cartographer Allen Carroll,
will handle cartography.

Coordinating this geotourism initiative in Washington and Oregon are the
Central Cascades Project Advisory Committee, a coalition of Travel Oregon,
Washington State Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, Rural Development
Initiatives, Sustainable Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of
Land Management. Significant funding and regional leadership are being
provided by Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, USDA Forest
Service/National Forest Scenic Byways Transportation and Tourism Planning,
USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Cultural Trust, Clackamas County
Tourism Development Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife,
Central Oregon Visitors Association, Convention and Visitors Association of
Lane County Oregon, Portland Metro and the Columbia River Gorge Visitors

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances
to develop similar “Geotourism MapGuides” in several other regions around the
world. MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in Greater
Yellowstone, the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana),
Guatemala, Sonoran Desert (Arizona, Sonora), Honduras, Peru, Baja California,
Vermont and Appalachia.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit
scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and
diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care
about the planet. It reaches more than 325 million people worldwide each month
through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines;
National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films;
books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; school publishing programs; interactive media;
and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific
research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education
program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit


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