Editor’s Note: This column was written by staff at the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Campground modernization and expansion is vital to the RV industry as it prepares to meet the needs of the current and next generation of campers who enjoy outdoor recreation but want modern RV campsites, full-service campgrounds and amenities. Unfortunately, public campgrounds, particularly those on federal lands, are in danger of becoming irrelevant without the important improvements that will maintain them as favored destinations for generations to come.
A large interest group to these areas are RVers and it’s critical for the RV industry to ensure there are modern and plentiful places for RVers to camp through RVIA’s campground modernization and expansion efforts.
There is another reason why campground modernization and expansion — and access to outdoor recreation — is vital to those outside the RV industry. Investing in the modernization and expansion of campgrounds on public lands and gateway communities is a great way to grow rural prosperity. Many rural communities act as gateways to public lands, and the opportunities outdoor recreation creates on these public lands bring jobs, tourism and commerce into rural areas.
It has been shown that for every dollar Congress invests in the National Park Service, $10 is returned to the U.S. economy — creating over $40 billion of economic activity that directly benefits the nation’s rural areas and gateway communities. This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) announced the selection of 10 communities that will receive grants to revitalize their communities through outdoor recreation.
Several of the selected communities are in or adjacent to “Opportunity Zones,” economically distressed areas. Selected communities include Cambridge, N.Y.; Fryeburg, Maine; Giles County, Va.; Glenwood Springs, Colo.; Gorham, N.H.; Grants, N.M.; Jasper, Ala.; John Day, Ore.; Poultney, Vt.; and Thompson Falls, Mont.
These grants are a part of the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program which helps communities develop strategies and action plans to revitalize their Main Streets through outdoor recreation. Through the program, a planning team appointed by EPA and its federal counterparts will help the selected communities create a plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy in ways that promote sustainable resource management and environmentally friendly community development.
Hundreds of communities from across the country applied for the grants and ten communities were selected. The selected communities are planning to revitalize their communities in a variety of ways, but many focusing on attracting visitors to local public lands and working to attract recreation-related economic opportunities. These revitalization efforts support access to outdoor recreation opportunities that will benefit RVers and the RV industry.