How you could help bring more winter outdoor recreation to your community

The Maine-based Outdoor Sport Institute recently launched a series of free online programs and resources to help people increase opportunities for outdoor recreation in their communities.

“I think now more than ever we’re seeing the need for this as people are trying to get outside and stay closer to home,” said Mike Smith, the institute’s executive director. “It’s been our message all along — that the outdoors doesn’t need to be way out there, it can be right here, right out your backdoor, and you don’t need to be an expert to get involved.”

The monthly online roundtable series was launched this summer as a way for OSI to continue its mission to support outdoor sports in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upcoming online OSI programs include a free roundtable in which participants discuss the question “What challenges does your community face with outdoor sports in the winter?” from 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, and the free webinar “Managing Risk and Improving Community Outdoor Programs” scheduled for 6-7 p.m. on Dec. 15.

In addition, if you sign up to become a member of the OSI community (which is free), you gain access to a wealth of online resources including sport curriculum guides and recordings of past roundtables and interviews with outdoor sport experts. And if looking for more extensive learning experiences, the institute began offering virtual weeklong courses that are tuition based this fall.

To create these online resources, OSI is teaming up with outdoor experts throughout Maine and beyond. For example, in early October, OSI partnered with the International Mountain Bicycling Association to offer a weeklong online trail school, teaching people how to plan, design and build trails in their communities.

“In some ways, place is no longer the barrier because everyone is thinking of [learning] online,” Smith said. “We have a vast network of colleagues and experts in outdoor work. It’s exciting to think of ways to engage them and get them involved.”

To learn more about OSI and joining the community, visit The organization plans to add more resources and features to the website in the months ahead.

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EU seeks to bring order to confusing COVID-era travel

FILE PHOTO: A passenger wearing a protective face mask walks at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union adopted on Tuesday a “traffic light” system to guide member states whether to require COVID-19 testing or quarantines for non-essential EU travellers such as tourists.

A meeting of European affairs ministers approved the recommendation, which aims to end a confusing patchwork of restrictions and to restore free movement – a cherished principle in the 27-member bloc – when conditions allow.

With cases spiking across Europe, only a few areas would currently qualify for the lowest-risk “green” band allowing unrestricted travel. They include most of eastern Germany, parts of the Nordic and Baltic countries, some areas of Bulgaria and Greece, and one zone in Italy.

EU nations will be encouraged to apply “proportionate” measures for medium-risk orange and high-risk red zones, which could include a quarantine or a test but not a blanket bar on entry.

The 27 nations are to supply data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on numbers of new cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, plus numbers of tests and percentage of positive tests in the past week. The agency will then produce a colour-coded map.

Though individual EU countries are free to determine their own measures, they are urged to be consistent. “We welcome this agreement to bring more order to a currently confusing situation,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Kate Abnett and Andrew Cawthorne

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