Recreation Economy for Rural Communities 2021 Application
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This round of applications for Recreation Economy for Rural Communities planning assistance closed on Nov. 22, 2021. It is here for reference only.
Outdoor activities are increasingly popular across the United States. Recognizing this trend, many communities are seeking to grow their outdoor recreation and tourism economy, invest in their Main Streets, and conserve forests and other natural lands. Encouraging growth on Main Streets and in existing neighborhoods while promoting outdoor recreation can help foster community revitalization, protect air and water quality, create jobs, support economic growth and diversification, and offer new opportunities for people to connect with the natural world. For more information on the outdoor recreation economy, visit the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s National Recreation Economic Data page.
With Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance, a planning team will help communities bring together local residents and other stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy. The planning assistance process will take place over four to six months, with a focal point being a facilitated community workshop. This workshop could be held in person, as a series of virtual work sessions, or a combination of both, depending on travel limitations due to the COVID pandemic. At the workshop, participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals.
Partner communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and Main Street revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources. Examples could include:
- Ensuring local residents, including young people, have connections and opportunities related to nearby outdoor assets to foster community pride, good stewardship, and local economic benefits.
- Creating or expanding trail networks to attract overnight visitors and new businesses and foster use by local residents.
- Developing in-town amenities, such as broadband service; electric vehicle charging; housing; or shops, restaurants, or breweries, to serve residents and attract new visitors and residents with an interest in nearby outdoor assets.
- Marketing local downtowns / Main Streets as gateways to nearby natural lands to capture and amplify outdoor recreation dollars.
- Developing a community consensus on the management of outdoor assets to reduce potential conflicts and ensure sustainable use of resources.
- Ensuring that all residents and visitors, particularly those who have not historically been engaged in outdoor recreation and Main Street revitalization efforts, have equitable access to and can benefit from the growing outdoor recreation economy.
Eligibility and Special Considerations
Eligible applicants include local governments, Indian tribes, and nonprofit institutions and organizations representing any community in the United States.
Special consideration will be given to the following:
- Small towns and rural communities;
- Economically disadvantaged communities;
- Underserved communities where the majority of residents are people of color or communities with substantial minority populations; and/or
- Communities located in the Northern Border region of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York (visit the Northern Border Regional Commission's website for a list of counties in this region).
How to Apply
Please use the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities Application Form to apply for the RERC assistance. Your application should provide specifics that will help us understand how this planning assistance would help you and your partners to revitalize a Main Street or neighborhood through development of the local recreation economy.
The application includes the following questions:
- What is the project's geographic scope (e.g., neighborhood, town)?
- What is the area’s demographic makeup (i.e., race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, etc.)?
- What outdoor recreation assets and natural resources does your community have that you would like to build upon?
- What challenges does your community face around economic development?
- What challenges does your community face in terms of Main Street revitalization?
- What existing plans and programs does your community currently have underway to support outdoor recreation and Main Street revitalization?
- What strategies and opportunities to build on the outdoor recreation economy and strengthen Main Street revitalization would you like to explore through this program?
- How would a community workshop through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program help you achieve your goals?
- How has your community encouraged participation with historically marginalized groups or groups adversely affected by inequality and how would a RERC workshop assist in engaging these groups in conversations about outdoor recreation and Main Street revitalization?
- As part of the RERC program, each community is asked to form a diverse steering committee to guide the project and participate in planning meetings in advance of the workshop. Having a steering committee that represents all segments of the local community leads to more meaningful participation among residents, community organizations, and other stakeholders. Local steering committees often include representatives from local, regional, and/or state government; community organizations that represent various interests within the community; businesses; residents; and others. Please identify who would participate in your local steering committee (name and organization they represent).
Applicants must identify a point of contact from the lead organization who will be available for the duration of the project to lead coordination of local participation and to work with the planning assistance team.
Letters of support are not required. However, some applicants might wish to strengthen their applications by having partner organizations or local elected officials pledge to support the process and implementation of the resulting action plan. All letters of support should be uploaded on the application page.
Applications were due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 22, 2021.
Selection of partner communities will take into account:
- The community is challenged by disinvestment downtown or in long-established neighborhoods.
- The project benefits a traditionally underserved or high-poverty community.
- The lead organization has enough capacity and resources to help plan the workshop and implement the resulting action plan.
- The lead organization could benefit from federal assistance to help plan a public workshop and convene stakeholders.
- The lead organization has demonstrated the ability to benefit from other federal assistance it has received (if any).
- The project supports development of the local recreation economy in a way that helps revitalize downtown or long-established neighborhoods, promotes economic development, and increases sustainable use of forests or other natural lands.
- The community wants to address problems with the built environment, such as empty storefronts or streets where pedestrians feel unsafe, and the project has clear benefits for the place where it is located.
- The project has environmental benefits or a connection to the protection of forests or other natural lands.
- Fit of program
- The applicant's goals and expectations fit with the scope and nature of the assistance.
- This planning assistance effort would complement any previous federal investments in the community.
- The project's location has (or the community is working to develop) the assets of a traditional downtown or close-in neighborhood, such as a centralized business district, walkable streets, or traditional Main Street development.
- Given the intended project and goals, the applicant has identified appropriate partners, including within the local government.
- The applicant has a history of working with the identified partners or has shown a willingness to do so.
- The applicant has demonstrated a commitment to working with historically marginalized groups or groups adversely affected by inequality.
We will contact all selected and non-selected communities upon completion of the review process.
If you have questions about Recreation Economy for Rural Communities planning assistance or the application process, please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Recreation Economy for Rural Communities. If your question is not answered there, please email email@example.com.