The Outdoor Discovery Network, which oversees WenatcheeOutdoors and OkanoganOutdoors could be dubbed the folly of Doug Pauly, Bob Parlette, and Andy Dappen. In the winter of 2005, the three were drawn into a philosophical discussion. They asked each other how they could get more people connected to the outdoor world surrounding North Central Washington. Could they spread the fun, physical health, and mental health derived from muscle-powered outdoor recreation? Could they build community among the disenfranchised outdoor enthusiasts living and playing in North Central Washington? Was there a better way to keep outdoor enthusiasts informed about issues affecting outdoor resources? And could they coordinate these disconnected enthusiasts in local efforts to conserve places that make our region an extraordinary place to live?
So they initially built the WenatcheeOutdoors website to serve outdoor enthusiasts living or recreating within an hour’s drive of the Wenatchee Valley. Grant money for the effort was initially received from the Complete the Loop Coalition. Eric Anderson, a professional web designer, climber, backcountry skier, and friend was abused because he believed in the project. Andy Dappen, a local journalist, provided much of the content. In subsequent years, generous grants and gifts from the Complete the Loop Coalition, Icicle Fund, Community Foundation, Wenatchee Valley Medical Center (now Confluence Health), and the Chelan-Douglas Health District kept the effort growing grants and sponsors. Along the way Outdoor Discovery Network established itself as a 501(c)3 non-profit with the mission of promoting muscle-powered outdoor recreation at the local level for the purposes of improving local lifestyles, enhancing public health, augmenting sustainable new economies, and strengthening local conservation efforts.
In the summer of 2012 a new wrinkle was added to the mix. For two years we had talked about launching a more interactive forum so our local outdoor enthusiasts could share information faster and more easily. Focus groups helped conceptualize and flush-out the idea, but we were lacking time to launch the beast. Finally Ray Birks, exasperated by our incompetence, stepped in, got the forum running, and helped administer/moderate it. If you’re not a user of the forum yet, it’s time to join the conversation (seewww.WenatcheeOutdoorsForum.org).
It’s been the goal of the Outdoor Discovery Network to help other local websites like WenatcheeOutdoors get established; to help spread the personal, community, and conservation benefits of the outdoors through a local information source; to share expertise; and to share content when appropriate. We’ve consulted with interested communities around the state, but finding the financial resources needed to pay for some of the help needed to keep the many parts of a vital website going proved to be a deal breaker for those we advised.
In 2013, however, a different approach to developing another local-focused website concentrating on those regions within an hour’s drive of the Okanogan River Valley (more or less the land base of Okanogan County) materialized. The Outdoor Discovery Network was contacted by Confluence Health headquartered in Wenatchee to build and manage an OkanoganOutdoors website modeled after WenatcheeOutdoors.