NAI met in St Paul MN this week. Fermata exhibited earlier in the meeting. Ted held a workshop on the Tao of Interpretation on Saturday, the last day of the workshop. In fact, Ted presented one of the last sessions on the last day.
Needless to say, the crowd had thinned considerably. Those in attendance, however, were enthusiastic participants. This is a new presentation, and the crowd tolerated a few rough bumps. For example, the NAI inexplicably did not arrange for internet in the presentation rooms. Imagine giving a presentation on new media without access to the internet. In any case, the group that attended seemed unbothered by the glitches.
Fermata began working in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of South Texas in the early 1990s. Our first project involved developing the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail for Texas Parks and Wildlife in that area. We followed that work with the feasibility study for the World Birding Center, the strategic plan for the World Birding Center, nature tourism strategies for several of the communities there such as Mission, Weslaco, and South Padre, a feasibility study for the new centers at Weslaco and South Padre Island, and interpretive enhancements at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen.
Early in our work we assessed the economic impacts of nature tourism in key LRGV sites such as Santa Ana NWR, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, and the Sabal Palms sanctuary near Brownsville. At that time (at least 15 years ago) we estimated an annual impact of $125 million from nature tourism in South Texas. A number of people were surprised by that figure, and questioned its accuracy. How could birders and other nature tourists contribute so much to that economy?