Environment Is Business

October 31, 1997

BLACKSBURG, Oct. 21, 1997 -- The nation's top experts on eco-tourism will be available for interview during the 6th Annual National Watchable Wildlife Conference, Nov. 11-14, at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Va.

"Watchable Wildlife is whole lot more than birdwatching! From the viewpoint of a professional biologist and wannabe educator, I see Watchable Wildlife as a tool to attract and interest the public long enough to teach someone something about nature -- so that he or she connects with the importance of what it ultimately represents, a healthy environment in balance," explains Skip Griep, conference chair and biologist for the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest.

Wildlife viewing, photography, and general nature study are the most rapidly growing outdoor recreational pursuits of the decade, so the matter has enormous business implications. Wildlife watchers spent $31 billion in 1996 in America.

Undeveloped communities with no other economic base, are finding that natural resources can be a golden goose for them, if properly planned, in the burgeoning eco-tourism market.

Key speakers include Mark Van Putten, president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation; Joan Embery, Goodwill Ambassador for the San Diego Zoo and nationally known for her animal education on television; Chris Palmer, CEO of National Wildlife Productions and consultant to TBS Superstation, Disney Channel, Discovery Channel, Home and Garden Television, Travel Channel, Outdoor Life Network, and public television; Peter Dunne, a prominent conservationist, author, and birder; and Jeff Glassberg, a national butterfly expert.

One preconference highlight will focus on using modern technology for wildlife mapping. Topics range from the wildlife diversity initiative to balancing economics and ecology.

Media packet of materials available at conference, along with computer and modem to file stories.

Virginia Tech

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