Oregon is a one-of-a-kind destination: soaring sand dunes along a pristine coast, towering mountains, surging waterfalls, high desert playgrounds, eclectic cities, artisan-filled towns, wild rivers, abundant farmlands, and world-class cuisine. It’s 100% real, but when you’re there, you might swear otherwise.
The magical beauty of Oregon and its broad array of authentic and off-the-beaten-path adventures for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, makes it an ideal setting for AdventureELEVATE 2022.
The Adventure Trade Travel Association (ATTA) places great importance on several factors when choosing event destination partners. A location with a thriving adventure travel industry is a priority, but there is equal emphasis on the destination’s backing of responsible tourism and sustainability initiatives. As part of ATTA’s mission, we recognize the need to protect natural and cultural resources in a way that benefits communities and businesses in the outdoor adventure travel industry – for today and for the future – and we seek destinations that align with this belief.
The natural beauty of Oregon is undeniably stunning. There is no shortage of activities (or landscapes) for those seeking the outdoors – lending to Oregon’s status as a leader in world-class cycling, kayaking, skiing, rafting, windsurfing, and much more. But Oregon has made a name for itself in other ways too. The initiatives that Eugene and the state of Oregon have implemented (and continue to evolve) around sustainability and inclusion, is a significant reason why this location and its host partners (Eugene, Cascades & Coast and Travel Oregon) make it an ideal destination for AdventureELEVATE 2022.
Eugene has been striving to be a sustainable city since the 1960s, and its hard work is paying off. It consistently ranks at the top of lists for most sustainable US cities and has one of the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The city has gained recognition for confronting environmental issues with a grassroots approach and for utilizing a triple bottom line framework that guides how they think about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of their decisions.
Ditching a car and riding a bike is one of the more popular ways to be green, especially in Oregon. While there are plenty of opportunities in the region to wind your bike through valleys on the scenic bikeway system, shred down mountains on singletrack, or enjoy the ocean mist on a fat tire bike along the coast, Eugene has also made itself one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. With over 150 miles of designated bike lanes and paths and a city-wide bike-sharing program, Eugene has earned its Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community status (since 2009) by making biking an accessible and safe alternative to driving.
The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region has a thriving sustainable food movement with farmers’ markets and many of the local restaurants sourcing ingredients from regional farms and grocers. Eugene’s Love Food, Not Waste composting program encourages residents and businesses to turn their food waste into communal compost and local companies offer sustainable food tours in the region.
Many of the Willamette Valley vineyards and wineries are certified sustainable, organic, or biodynamic, making the valley one of the most sustainable wine regions in the world. In addition to the valley creating its own sustainable agriculture practices certification (LIVE), the vineyards in the region partner with the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene to release rehabilitated raptors on their property to provide natural pest control.
PeaceHealth city-wide bike share program | Lane County Farmers Market @ 5th Street Public Market in Downtown Eugene | Pfeiffer Winery: one of the first solar-powered vineyards in Oregon
Eugene and other organizations across the state of Oregon are prioritizing and actively working on inclusion and accessibility initiatives. The city of Eugene is known nationally as an accessible community, owed to a long history of prioritizing access for people of all abilities through adaptability and design – making it a great home and travel destination for everyone. “If we can create an environment [where any kind of disability] doesn’t have to impact [our ability to do something], that’s a great place to live”, said Andy Fernandez, from the city’s Adaptive Recreation & Senior Services. Watch the following video to hear more about Eugene’s accessibility efforts.
When it comes to outdoor adventures, there are many companies in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast area that offer inclusive outings. On a state level, Oregon State Parks partners with Adventures Without Limits to provide custom recreation experiences for people of all abilities, including accessible kayak events and overnight camping trips.
The state park system is also working on inclusive restroom improvements that involve phasing out multi-stall, gender-specific restroom facilities and installing more single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms. This is a great step in thinking about inclusion on a larger scale. It’s more than just being ADA compliant – more than creating a paved trail in a park. When we take an equity-centered approach, we can provide a diverse range of access for all.
As part of the city of Eugene’s Climate Action Plan 2.0, they have created an Equity Panel that embodies a broad representation and mix of voices from small grassroots groups to large organizations. The goal is to ensure that new projects are sensitive to the needs of marginalized communities.
The Pacific Northwest is a place where Indigenous people have lived since time immemorial. They were displaced by white settlers, and Oregon is working to share the full history and stories from the Indigenous voices that historically have not been represented or included. As part of their 2022-2031 Transformational Strategy, Travel Oregon has partnered with nine federally-recognized Tribes of Oregon to form a Tribal tourism working group to create and promote unique cultural Indigenous tourism experiences with the community.
For delegates attending AdventureELEVATE 2022, ATTA recommends downloading the Strides for Social Justice app, offering self-guided running, walking, cycling, and wheelchair routes that point out historical markers and share stories related to Black history along the way.
The examples of sustainability and inclusion do not end here. Come to AdventureELEVATE and experience it yourself, while gathering with your fellow adventure travel community from 3-5 May. Limited space is available – learn more about the agenda, attending media, and register soon.