Recent survey by National Recreation and Parks Association of US Adults
Adults throughout the United States intend to give the gift of outdoor activities this holiday season. Whether athletic shoes or clothing, sports or exercise equipment, exercise classes or lessons, camping or outdoor gear, bikes and more, giving a gift of outdoor activities is giving the gift of health and wellness.
Local parks, trails and green spaces are the perfect places to test out your new holiday gifts.
Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults intend to spend money on holiday gifts associated with outdoor activities
Nearly half of all U.S. adults intend to spend $100 or more on holiday gifts associated with outdoor activities
Eighty-seven percent of parents overall and 90 percent of parents with children under 13 years old intend to spend money on holiday gifts associated with outdoor activities
Gen Zers and millennials are most likely to spend money on holiday gifts associated with outdoor activities
Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to spend $100 or more holiday gifts associated with outdoor activities
What’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys? River otters!
River otters are the life of the party and know how to have fun! They are one of the largest and more social members of the weasel (or Mustelidae) family.
The weasel family has been around for a long time and first appeared about 15 million years ago. This group includes nearly 60 different species including mink, ferrets, badgers, martens, wolverines, and more.
The Mustelidae family inhabits every continent except Antarctica and Australia. All are primarily carnivorous and most are active year around.
River otters are relatively small mammals (overall length can be up to 50 inches) with heavily-muscled, elongated streamlined bodies. They live in water most of the time and are superb swimmers.
They have adapted for a semiaquatic lifestyle in several ways: –Short powerful legs and webbed toes make fast swimmers (up to eight miles per hour). They are further helped along by their long-thick tapered tail that can also propel them and act as a rudder. –Dense fur keeps them warm and must be dried and frequently groomed to maintain the insulating properties and water resistance. –Eyes and ears are set high on the head supporting surface swimming. The eyes also have a third protective eyelid for swimming under water. Otters are also nearsighted. –Even the small rounded ears and nostrils close when the otter is under water. Allowing them to spend up to eight minutes under water and dive 60 feet!
Range & Habitat
River otters range includes rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, bogs, and large marine waterways primarily west of the Cascade Range.
Previously, this species was hunted extensively. There was also significant habitat losses due to pollution.
Otters are no longer found in many States. Several States have very successful recovery programs.
The home range for a River Otter can be as large as 30 square miles. Otters tend to follow a regular circuit across watersheds and tributaries and may travel up to 18 miles in a day.
On the Move
Otters are constantly on the move, particularly the males, which are known to travel up to 150 miles each year. Females with young will travel but not nearly that far.
A good part of the movement is hunting. River Otters have an amazing sense of smell and are able to sniff out and pursue concentrations of upstream fish from long distances.
Otters spend most of their time in the water. They are on dry land about one-third of the time.
They often will make extensive overland excursions from one habitat to another. One would wonder how much time is spent building slides.
While fish is the favorite, River Otters will also eat: Crustaceans (like crab, shrimp, and barnacles), Amphibians (think frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts), Invertebrates (such as water insects, worms, snails, snakes), small mammals, birds (eggs, nestlings), and even plant matter.
They are also rather ‘tidy’ eaters and always wash themselves after every meal.
Mustelidae also have very different reproduction patterns. Females control when embryos are implanted and may extend normal gestation for up to a year.
Survival is the name of the game. This delay gives the female a better chance at keeping the young alive with favorable food and weather conditions.
Even if you are unable to see these animals frolic in the wild, be sure to see them at your local zoo or wildlife reserve. Their antics, dances, and rambunctious play puts a smile on everyone’s face.
REFERENCES: –Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (https://myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/weasels-skunks-badgers-and-otters and ) –Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/lutra-canadensis) –Washington Post, River Otters Aren’t Just Cute They are a Sign of Hope for the Environment (https://wapo.st/2ON5vBZ) –Wikipedia, North American River Otter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_river_otter)
Fat tire bikes are perfect transportation device for exploring the Oregon Coast. These bikes were developed for riding on unstable terrain, such as sand, snow, bogs, dirt, mud, gravel, etc.
Fat tire bikes are not new. Having a wide variety of places to ride adventure bike give modern day explorer an amazing opportunity along the Oregon Coast.
Early prototypes were designed for deserts, such as the Sahara, and snow races in Alaska. Some design modifications started as rim and tire upgrades to normal mountain bikes.
The low-pressure designs needed honing to makes bikes smoothly ride over rough, often unstable, ground and obstacles. Changes included wider tire forks and rims, wheel size options, and frame structure improvements.
One of the challenges this design had was to create the greatest amount of tire surface contact. This need generated a number of prototypes that were both two- and three-tire bike designs.
Desert Bike Tours
Ray Molino, New Mexico, wanted bikes for his guided tour business. He wanted a bike that could traverse the soft sands of the Mexican and Southwestern U.S. arroyos and dunes.
Molina met Mark Gronewald, owner of Wildfire Designs Bicycles, met Moline at the 1999 Interbike convention in Las Vegas. Gronewald road one of Molina bikes and agreed to build several bikes.
Fat Bikes Extreme
In 2001, Gronewald coined the trademarked name “Fat Bike” and used it when naming his bike designs. He continued selling these original fatbikes until 2011.
To see these bike race, along with skiing and snowshoe tournaments, visit the Alaskan Iditasport (previously Iditarod, scheduled for January 16, 2021 in Willow, Alaska). The 100 kilometer (64 mile) course traverses the Susitna Valley from Willow to Yentna Station Lodge and back, finishing at the EagleQuest Lodge (https://eaglequestalaska.com/).
This grueling race follows the Iditarod Trail that was used for millennia as the main trade and migration route by Alaska’s first people. Who knows, you may come home with a fat tire bike on your Christmas list.
Fat Bikes on the Oregon Coast
Late summer and early fall offer some of the best biking weather along the Oregon Coast. Traffic on the Oregon Coast typically drops off along with competition for lodging and food.
The Coast offers cooler summer days compared to three-digit temperatures elsewhere with summer breezes and sunshine.
Oregon Coast Bike Route
The Oregon Coast Bike Route (OCBR) spans 370-miles from border to border and includes several spectacular shorter rides. Route ridership is estimated to be between 6,000 and 10,000 people annually (2018).
The route includes a 60-mile (all options) Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway anchored in Port Orford, Oregon. This route includes historic lighthouses, ocean views, towering basalt sea stacks, cranberry bogs, and amazing wildlife.
There are many choices some are challenging, some are not—your choice! A fat tire bike may be just the right tool to traverse these areas in comfort.
To find out more about these opportunities at:
Oregon Department of Transportation (https://www.oregon.gov/odot/programs/pages/bikeped.aspx) offers a wealth of products (maps, newsletters, etc.) including:
REFERENCES: –Iditasport (https://www.iditasport.com/) –Wikipedia, Fat tire bikes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatbike) –The best fat tire bikes you can get  (https://www.bicycle-guider.com/best-fat-tire-bikes/)
Associate Professor - Tourism and Business Development
College of Forest Ecosystems & Society
Oregon State University Extension - Oregon Sea Grant
Equal Opportunity/Accessibility https://extension.oregonstate.edu/equal-opportunity-accessibility