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Trump Administration Partners with Rural Communities to Grow Outdoor Recreation Economy

10/07/2019
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (October 7, 2019)Today, in support of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) are announcing that they have selected 10 communities under the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program to help revitalize their Main Streets through outdoor recreation.

Several of the selected communities are in or adjacent to Opportunity Zones, economically-distressed areas that can be designated for preferential tax treatment under the president’s historic tax reform package. The 10 communities selected for assistance include: Cambridge, New York; Fryeburg, Maine; Giles County, Virginia; Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Gorham, New Hampshire; Grants, New Mexico; Jasper, Alabama; John Day, Oregon; Poultney, Vermont; and Thompson Falls, Montana.

“We are pleased to work with our federal partners to promote healthy outdoor activities and deliver on President Trump’s commitment to support and revitalize rural communities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Together, we will develop strategies that rural communities can use to grow their economies and make wise use of their natural resources.”

“What better way to sustain our nation’s forests, grasslands and watersheds than through partnerships that engage people directly in stewardship and foster community-driven economic opportunities,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

“America’s Northern Border Region has some of the most beautiful and recreation-ready natural lands in the country. We’re thrilled to be part of this initiative, which aligns well with NBRC’s increased strategic interest in the outdoor recreation economy across our territory,” said Harold B. Parker, Federal Co-Chair of NBRC.

An outdoor recreation trade association representative welcomed the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities planning assistance program. "We applaud this effort," said Jessica Wahl, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) Executive Director. "ORR looks forward to working with the EPA, USDA and the Northern Border Regional Commission to help more communities invest in the recreation economy and time spent outside."

Through Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance, a planning team appointed by EPA and its federal counterparts will help the partner communities create an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy in ways that promote sustainable resource management and environmentally friendly community development.

The selected communities are planning to revitalize their communities in a variety of ways, including building new trail connections, boosting downtown amenities, connecting nearby hiking-biking trails to downtown, and working to attract recreation-related economic opportunities.

The planning process will take place over four to six months, with a two-day facilitated community workshop as the focal point. Participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals.

For more information: https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/recreation-economy-rural-communities

For more information about EPA Community Revitalization: https://www.epa.gov/community-revitalization

For more information about USDA Forest Service: https://www.fs.fed.us/  

For more information about the Northern Border Regional Commission: http://www.nbrc.gov/

For more information about EPA Region 1 Smart Sectors Recreational Economy Partnership: https://www.epa.gov/smartsectors/newengland

For more information about EPA Region 8 Smart Sectors Recreational Economy Partnership: https://www.epa.gov/smartsectors/epa-region-8-smart-sectors-program

Background

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 report on The National Outdoor Recreation Economy, outdoor activities – including hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting, birdwatching, off-road vehicle riding, skiing, snowmobiling, and viewing historic places – generated $887 billion in annual spending and created more than 7 million jobs. These activities can bring new investment to local economies, heighten interest in conservation of forests and other natural resources, and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.

The EPA Office of Community Revitalization supports locally led, community-driven efforts to expand economic opportunity, protect human health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. Through technical assistance, publications, research, tools, and grants, EPA is helping America's communities turn their visions of the future into reality.

The USDA Forest Service develops and implements place-based recreation planning using collaborative processes with communities and outdoor recreation and tourism providers within regional destination areas. Forest Service recreation programs support over 205,000 jobs, the majority of which are in rural gateway communities near national forests.  The agency partners with states, tribes, local communities, and landowners to promote shared stewardship of public and privately owned forests and grasslands.

Created in 2008, the Northern Border Regional Commission (www.nbrc.gov) is a federal-state partnership whose mission is to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. In its eleven-year history, the commission has awarded 248 grants amounting to more than $56 million across the four states through its primary Economic & Infrastructure Development (EID) grant program and other special initiatives.