Category Archives: Economics of huts

Alaska Huts

Alaska huts and trails and economic development

“Could the lure of trails salvage Alaska’s economy?”

article by Krista Langlois in High Country News (June 26,2017):

Summary  below with link to full article

 

This article is highly recommended to anyone interested in huts and trails and their potential for economic development.  Following is a brief summary:

The subtitle of this piece summarizes Langlois’ arena of exploration: A trial along the Trans-Alaska pipeline could be the start of a booming recreation economy. Krista interviews people on all sides of this question, but is clearly interested in the potential of Alaska’s greatest asset — its sublime landscape and huge tracts of magnificent wilderness — as a desperately needed driver of economic development.  

The economy of Alaska is on the ropes: timber jobs have decreased by 80%, oils production has dropped by 76% since 1989, the state is doing everything it can to prop up fishing and mining, but is now facing a $4 billion budget deficit.  Governor Bill Walker said in 2016 “We have reached a point in our state’s history that we need to be looking beyond oil.”  

The specific proposal Langlois explores is the development of an 800 mile trail that parallels the Trans-Pacific pipeline.  She outlines the arguments pro and con, provides interesting character sketches some of the advocates and opponents of the trail, and provides valuable context in comparing the state of trail development in Alaska compared with that in the lower 48 states.  The bottom line is that while Alaska has unsurpassed wilderness beauty, it has relatively little infrastructure to attract outdoor enthusiasts.

She hones in on the fact that the rugged wilderness of Alaska is beyond the capabilities of most people, and that the development of hut systems is one way of making these wonders accessible to the vast majority of “people in the middle” who appreciate and long for contact with wild but are simply  not up to the job of backpacking in Alaska.  She interviews Tom Callahan of Alaska Huts Association, and cites relevant economic development studies and initiatives including the New Zealand hut system and Great Walks, the AMC Hut System, and Adventure Cycling, and Fruita Colorado to name a few.  

But don’t settle for my summary: its well worth reading the entire article.

Grand Huts Association: $100,000 expansion grant

Congratulations!  According to an article in the SkyHiDaily News,  a major grant from private donors will help fund the second hut in The Grand Huts Association.

Their first hut (the Broome Hut pictured here), which took 15 years to get permitted and built, was completed in 2012 at a cost of $400,000.  Located in a remote location with excellent back country skiing, materials were delivered to the site by helicopter.  The hut is very popular and operates close to full capacity in winter and at about half-capacity in summer.  Located on US Forest Service Land near Winter Park Colorado, the Grand Huts association hopes to eventually grow to 5-7 huts, creating a hut-to-hut system from Berthoud Pass to Grand Lake in Grand County.

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Alpine huts for Scotland? News of a possible pilot project…

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Larig Leacach Bothy Courtesy Wikipedia

Is Scotland missing out on a key mountain tourism niche?

The Ramblers in Scotland think this may be true, and are proposing a pilot project to test this assumption.

While the Scots have “Bothies” — unimproved  backpacker shelters — European-style huts are not part of the accommodations infrastructure for walkers in Scotland, Wales, England.  They rely on a robust network of B&B’s and hostels.  This leaves gaps in mountainous regions.

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News: Economic impact of hut-to-hut systems

Most hut systems aspire to document their economic impact in the area in which they operate.   But its hard to do without professional help, which most systems can’t afford.   Recently I ran across two very good economic analyses, about which there will be an article in the new year.

Meanwhile, check out the recent work of the Appalachian Mountain Club  “Economic Impact of the Appalachian Club’s Huts and Lodges in New Hampshire“, and the latest in a series of serious analyses statements done over the years by the Methow Trails “Economic Impacts of Methow Trails“.

It seems there is a need for an economic impact template focused on huts and trails that can be adapted for use locally by hut system managers.  But thats another topic!

Sam Demas

HutNews October 2015

(Alaska Huts Logo, used with permission)

INCREASES IN HUT USE REPORTED

Informal reports from the Appalachian Mountain Club Huts, 10th Mountain Division Huts, and San Juan Hut Systems indicate that demand for their services is strong and usage continues to increase.  AMC and 10MD report occupancy rates are up approximately 4%-5% over last year.  AMC huts are experiencing their third year in a row of record occupancy.  they are on track to beat last years record of 43,000 visitors by up to 3,000 more visitors.  AMC and SJH are thinking about how to meet the growing demand, and expansion plans are under consideration.

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The Diverse Huts of the Swiss Alpine Club — essay by Marco Volken and Remo Kundert

“The SAC huts are open to all and serve as a meeting place for a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. They are both objects of identification for members and an important infrastructure for alpine tourism.” This is how the Swiss Alpine Club summarizes the purpose of its huts in its 2006 hut regulations.

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