Rock your park in Vancouver-Clark!

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photoPete Mayer, Director, Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation

Report: Health benefits of the Intertwine

On average,  17.2  million  pounds  of  body weight is  lost  or  avoided  each year by use of the Portland Metro area's Intertwine of parks and trails, according to a Metro study released in January.  The  healthcare  cost  savings  of  this  avoided  body  weight is $155  million  annually  in  averted  healthcare  costs as  a  result  of  physical  activity.

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Physical Activity and the Intertwine

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July is National Parks and Recreation Month and what better time to “Rock Your Park” in the Vancouver-Portland region? Get into a healthy habit and make your personal commitment to get outdoors. Nationwide, outdoor enthusiasts are signing the National Recreation and Parks Association's “5 in July Park Pledge.” There's still time to take the pledge!

By getting out there on The Intertwine's more than 1,250 miles of interconnected bicycle, pedestrian and water trails, 12,000 acres of developed parks and 24,000 acres of maintained natural area in the Vancouver-Portland metro region, you’ll help reduce health care costs to the tune of $155 million annually as a result of your physical activity, according to a study conducted by Metro in January. Indeed, the Intertwine is a public health asset that provides opportunities for physical activity and contributes to reducing obesity and related diseases, decrease rising health care costs and improving overall population health.

The Intertwine’s Bi-State Trails Plan highlights 17 special regional trails throughout the area for you to experience- providing both off-street and on-water experiences. How about hopping a kayak and experiencing the Lower Columbia River Water Trail right in the heart of Vancouver? Don’t have a kayak or never kayaked before? No problem! Visit Ridgefield Kayak to rent a kayak and tour the scenic and serene Lake River area along the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

How about a brief and healthy walk while learning the fascinating history of the area? Here’s the ticket: Metro’s “Walk There” guide (Foster, Laura O.) provides 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver. This pocket guide packs a punch with maps and information organized by four color-coded regional sections. Whether you want a lunchtime stroll, a history walk, a city center experience, nature in neighborhoods or a power walk of longer distances, you’ll find the right opportunity with this guide.

As part of their Thrive campaign, valued partner Kaiser Permanente has again supported the printing of an updated Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation trails map. This free guide includes a large countywide map showing trail locations and more detailed maps and information about features, length and difficulty for six highlighted regional trails including:

Captain William Clark Park Trail at Cottonwood Beach

Columbia River Renaissance Trail

Frenchman's Bar/Vancouver Lake Trail

Moulton Falls Regional Park Trail

Salmon Creek Greenway Regional Park Trail

Coming this fall is the second edition of the highly acclaimed “Wild in the City” (Houck, Michael C. and Cody, M.J.). More than 100 of the best parks, trails and natural areas will be featured. This comprehensive “must have” for reference will be the go-to field guide for hikers, cyclists, paddlers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

Celebrate July and “Rock Your Park” by experiencing some healthy low-cost fun with what this great Portland-Vancouver region has to offer in its interconnected parks, trails and natural areas.

Pete Mayer is director of Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation and a member of the Live Well advisory board. Mayer is a past president of Washington Recreation and Parks Association and a native of the Northwest. He has served in variety of park and natural resource management positions with city, county, district, state, military, and federal park and recreation agencies for the past 20 years. He enjoys mountain biking, racquetball, soccer playing and officiating, hiking, camping, and traveling.