ORR Announces Communities Receiving Funding to Grow Rural Economies through Outdoor Recreation

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Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), in partnership with The VF Foundation, is thrilled to announce four communities receiving funding this year to implement their economic revitalization plans through outdoor recreation projects, infrastructure or activities. The selected communities are Fryeburg, ME; Grants, NM; Jasper, AL; and John Day, OR. This implementation funding is in addition to technical assistance supporting these and other communities received through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USFS) and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). 

The four selected communities stood out for their connection to rural economic development, a core focus for the outdoor recreation industry, particularly as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. More Americans than ever looked to outdoor recreation as a means of physical and mental health this year and the trend is expected to continue. This is why ORR and the entire outdoor recreation industry are focusing attention on rural communities that want to plan for sustainable outdoor recreation as an economic growth engine through thoughtful, community-based plans.

“Opening the door to new and expanded recreation opportunities through locally-led programming will help our rural communities build back better during this difficult time,” said Gloria Schoch, Director of The VF Foundation and Global Impact. “We’re honored to collaborate with like-minded stakeholders to provide more rural communities with the necessary resources to help grow their economies and improve quality of life through greater access to the outdoors.”

“ORR and the outdoor recreation industry are proud to award these four communities grants that will put their recreation plans in action. We believe they are well-positioned to leverage these funds to grow jobs, attract and retain businesses and support their communities for years to come,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) Executive Director. “As more rural communities bolster their economies through outdoor recreation it will help rural America and the entire nation rebound from the pandemic and become more resilient in future economic and health crises. Additionally, three of the four communities (in New Mexico, Oregon, and Maine) will be supported by their state offices of outdoor recreation, positions ORR and our members wish to see created in all states to help with efforts to build outdoor recreation economies across the country.”

“First, I would like to express my appreciation to the granting authorities for their consideration of our application and the awarding of the grant,” said David O’Mary, Mayor of Jasper. “It has been a most pleasant experience for me to work with our local mountain bike enthusiasts in their pursuit of mountain bike trails in our City. The awarding of this grant points to their commitment and I am confident this is the first step towards a mountain bike course in the near future.”

“This assistance will directly contribute to the connectivity and accessibility of outdoor recreation in Fryeburg, including the creation of a vibrant downtown,” said Katie Haley, Town Manager. “The town of Fryeburg, its partners and the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission are excited to use these funds to implement goals and projects in the town that will have long term economic, environmental and social impacts.”

“The City of Grants and many local partners are gearing up to market and promote the vast opportunities in the area of Outdoor Recreation,” said Laura Jaramillo, City Manager. “After several planning sessions, the community was able to develop a strategic plan of action. The leaders envision great things happening in the outdoor recreation arena in the very near future.” 

“We are grateful for the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) grant programs for their technical and financial assistance. These awards empowered us to create and begin implementing a new recreation strategy for the City of John Day,” said Nicholas Green, City Manager. “ORR’s assistance will help propel our community’s recreation vision forward with new signage, waypoints, and other visual identifiers to make our trails and recreation areas easier to access and encourage visitors and residents to get out and recreate, shop and enjoy the natural beauty of our community.”

With the support of these grants, the four communities will work over the coming months to implement their rural development plans and receive in-kind support from across the industry. ORR plans to continue our partnership with the agencies around this RERC program and to support more communities in 2021.

Fryeburg, ME will use their grant to appraise a key property that supports recreation opportunities in preparation for acquisition, and develop a recreation inventory portal including online, digital, and printed mapping resources. These projects will support Fryeburg’s efforts to ensure outdoor access (in activities like biking, camping, boating, and rock climbing) to all members of its community, many of whom are low-income and/or members of minority groups. 

John Day, OR will use their grant to develop consistent branding and wayfinding sign design, as well as a destination analysis of top recreation sites to highlight. This work will engage the community, expand outdoor recreation opportunities like biking, camping, fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing, and help support John Day’s Main Street as a gateway to nearby public lands.

Grants, NM will use their grant to create a promotional guide to outdoor recreation opportunities in the communities including trail heads, local monuments, camp sites, cultural sites, recreation sites and other amenities. This guide will showcase diverse recreation activities including backpacking, hiking, biking, boating, campground & hospitality, equestrian, motorized and non-motorized water sports, and rock climbing, among others.

Jasper, AL will use their grant to develop, improve, and market the existing Russell Trail into a unique recreational facility for biking, hiking and cross-country running. The trail is nearby the town’s Main Street and will help revitalize the town by connecting recreation to existing businesses.

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.usda.gov  

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