Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), in partnership with The VF Foundation, on Thursday (Dec. 17) announced four communities receiving funding this year to implement their economic revitalization plans through outdoor recreation projects, infrastructure or activities, according to an ORR release.

The selected communities are Fryeburg, Maine; Grants, N.M.; Jasper, Ala.; and John Day, Ore. This implementation funding is in addition to technical assistance support 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.

Gloria Schoch

“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.”

Jessica Turner

“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 Oregon 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.

Visit the ORR website for more information on specific projects and partners.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable promotes the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and outdoor recreation activities and is the leading outdoor recreation coalition with 33 member associations serving over 110,000 businesses. ORR’s members represent America’s hunting, fishing, RVing, biking, hiking, camping, ATVing, diving, horseback and skiing communities among many more.