FAYETTEVILLE, WV (LOOTPRESS) — The city of Fayetteville was the only West Virginia community among 25 selected nationwide for a prestigious federal interagency partnership to support outdoor recreation initiatives.
On August 17, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Northern Boundary Regional Commission (NBRC ) announced the selection of 25 small rural communities from across the country to identify strategies to grow their outdoor recreation economies and revitalize main streets through the Economics of recreation for rural communities (RERC).
The City of Fayetteville and its partners propose to plan for and take advantage of the increased visitation to the area resulting from the establishment of the nearby New River Gorge National Park, to engage in community tourism development and planning inclusive, increase local access to outdoor recreation, and cultivate a culture of wellness in the community.
Andy Davis of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) submitted a letter dated November 10, 2021, supporting the winning proposal from the City of Fayetteville:
“The technical assistance provided by this program creates great potential to position the gateway community of Fayetteville to capitalize on the new New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. In order to identify more opportunities to connect Fayetteville’s downtown residential neighborhoods and corridors to national park lands, a collaborative and inclusive planning approach will be required. We recognize the benefits that a strong recreational economy can have on the health and well-being of our community. It is in this spirit that we support this funding proposal. We are committed to doing our part (NRGRDA) by working with the community and local authorities on land preservation and recreation-based economic initiatives. Accordingly, we support the drive to attract residents, expand business opportunities, ultimately rebuild our local tax base and directly benefit the region.
In the interagency announcement, federal and nonprofit leaders highlighted the importance and benefits of supporting outdoor recreation:
ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, a native of Beckley, said, “Appalachia’s travel and tourism industry is among the fastest growing employment sectors in the region, generating more than $4.5 billion in local tax revenue and employing over 577,000 Appalachians. The Recreational Economy for Rural Communities program builds on our region’s economic development potential by investing in local heritage and natural assets in Appalachia, which will lead to more vibrant town centers and increased growth outdoor recreation industries. We congratulate the 12 Appalachian communities chosen to be part of the RERC program.
Vicki Arroyo, The EPA Associate Administrator for Policy, said, “Outdoor recreation activities can bring new investment to local economies, encourage people to revitalize existing downtown areas and conserve natural resources, and lead to a better quality of life for residents and visitors. This assistance will help rural areas explore ways in which outdoor recreation can strengthen their communities, create jobs and improve access to the outdoors for all.
“The economic impact of outdoor recreation near our national forests and grasslands is critical to supporting health and prosperity in rural America,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Efforts to reinvigorate main streets through the Recreational Economy for Rural Communities program are an important step in helping communities realize all the benefits that adjacent national forests and grasslands make possible.”
“Communities in the Northern Border region are increasingly investing in outdoor recreation in ways that strengthen their local economies,” said NBRC Federal Co-Chair Chris Saunders.. “The work made possible through this federal partnership will ultimately lead to investments that will not only attract new visitors and tourists to rural New England and New York, but will also improve recreation opportunities and quality of life. local residents.
“The Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program is exactly what rural America needs to harness the strong demand for outdoor recreation and develop sustainable economies that benefit locals and visitors alike,” said Jessica Turner, President, Outdoor Break. Round table. “The $689 billion outdoor recreation economy benefits greatly from the government’s continued investment in programs like these that work on the ground and have a positive impact on people, place and planet. “
The RERC is a planning assistance program administered jointly by the EPA, USDA Forest Service, NBRC, and ARC that helps rural communities take advantage of outdoor recreation to revitalize their main streets, thereby improves environmental protection and public health outcomes. Communities are encouraged to pursue activities that promote environmentally responsible community development and revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources.
The communities plan to undertake a variety of revitalization projects, including:
- build new trail networks;
- improving access and walkability along main streets;
- increase access to outdoor activities for all residents and visitors;
- strengthen outdoor recreation enterprises;
- adapt to climate impacts affecting coastal resources, wildfires and winter recreation opportunities;
- clean up and repurpose vacant buildings; and
- create new parks and recreational facilities.
A federal planning team will work with each community for four to six months, with a facilitated two-day community workshop as the focal point. Participants will work together to develop strategies and an action plan to grow their local outdoor recreation economies. Some workshops are currently in progress. The communities were chosen following an extensive interagency review process from a pool of over 100 applicants.
More than 160 million Americans over the age of six participated in outdoor recreation in 2020, according to the 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report, and sales figures across the country. industry broke records as Americans flocked outdoors in search of safe, family-friendly opportunities during the pandemic. These activities – which include camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, RVing, boating, running, swimming, baseball, winter sports and many more – can bring benefits. new investments and jobs to local economies, benefit health and well-being, raise awareness about the conservation of forests and other natural resources, and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.
In 2020, outdoor recreation activities generated 4.3 million quality, well-paying jobs in a wide variety of industries, accounting for 3% of all jobs in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated the economic output of outdoor recreation in 2020 to be $689 billion, surpassing industries such as mining, utilities, agriculture and ranching. , and chemical manufacturing.