The Outdoors Comes In

When summer downpours drive you indoors, or you’re weary from a day-hiking or canoeing, you might be surprised to find that the outdoors can be found inside, on a television station near you.

In northern New England and New York, each of the four northernmost states now boasts at least one show that covers traditional and new recreation opportunities and conservation matters.

The newest show to hit the airwaves is Empire State Outdoors, which premiered in December 2005. The show highlights recreational opportunities for families and introduces viewers to the many natural resources in New York. From hiking to camping to fishing in Manhattan (yes, Manhattan), the show covers a variety of recreational opportunities.

Hosts Colleen McCarthy and Tim Singer also explore natural areas across New York and introduce viewers to local conservation efforts like the restoration of the bald eagle. Highlighting the multitude of plants and animals that live in the state, the “Outdoor Classroom” segment on each show encourages New Yorkers to learn about their environment, even if it is urban. Empire State Outdoors airs on Saturday evenings at 7 or 7:30 P.M. on many local stations. To check listings, visit

Residents in New Hampshire can watch NHPTV’s award-winning Wildlife Journal on Thursdays at 9 P.M. Hosted by Willem Lange and Lisa Densmore, the show introduces viewers to outdoor recreation, wildlife, and conservation efforts across the state and profiles fascinating people and local experts who have a passion for the natural world.

Each Wildlife Journal episode takes viewers to a different New Hampshire locale to detail its recreation opportunities and its history. During the “Wild Ways” segment, Lange and Densmore spend time with a local outdoor sports aficionado, taking part in an activity to give the audience a feel for it. In the midst of all of this bustle, Wildlife Journal even finds time to spotlight a plant or animal native to the state.

Vermont’s outdoor-related television program is called Outdoor Journal. Now in its fourth year, Outdoor Journal explores all types of outdoor recreation in Vermont, as well as venturing afield to New Hampshire and Maine for the best places to enjoy the outdoors. Hosts Marianne Eaton and Lawrence Pyne focus on popular adventure sports from Nordic skating to canoeing as well as local issues in conservation, such as managing agricultural lands to protect grassland songbirds in the state.

Outdoor Journal also features the rural traditions of Vermonters, which is likely to be especially interesting to newcomers and visitors to the state. The show covers present-day stories, such as makers of the Adirondack guide boat, while describing their historical significance. Over the past four seasons, 40 Outdoor Journal programs have aired, covering more than 125 traditional and new outdoor activities. The program airs on Tuesdays at 7:30 P.M. and repeats on Sundays at 6:00 P.M. 

Not to be outdone, Maine has two outdoor programs. The first, Northeast Journal, is hosted by Harry Vanderweide. The show focuses on hunting, fishing, and boating throughout the Northeast. Shown on local network-affiliate stations, community cable stations, the Maine Public Television Network, and the New England Sports Network, the program reaches a wide audience, introducing them to the beauty of Maine’s outdoors. Look in local listings for show times.

The talk-show format of Maine’s second outdoor program, Wildfire, allows callers to talk about a variety of environmental and sportsmen’s issues. Hosted by George Smith, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Harry Vanderweide, guests – who include Maine’s governor and congressional delegation – discuss the hot topics of the day. This show airs on many Maine commercial television stations throughout the week. Check local listings for show times.

All of this isn’t to suggest that you should stay inside and watch television all day, but there are some good reasons to tune in from time to time.


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