Federal funding helps rural communities build outdoor economies

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Federal programs donate approximately $30,000 to individual rural communities to help develop the outdoor recreation economy and revitalize Main Street.

This program is aptly called Recreational Economy in Rural Communities and is overseen by the EPA, Forest Service and others. This year, we are helping 25 communities, including two in Mountain West, Monte Vista, Colorado and Butte, Mont.

In 2019, the first year of the program, we also supported Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Grants, New Mexico; and Johnson Falls, Mont.

The program’s goals include supporting marketing, expanding the trail network, enhancing city amenities, and improving public access to outdoor areas.

According to Chris Perkins, senior director of the industry coalition’s Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, the support will help diversify rural economies and support local residents.

“It helps foster rural prosperity, improve public health outcomes, and promote environmental stewardship and conservation ethics,” Perkins said.

He said this was especially true after the pandemic when people flocked outdoors for mental health and safe socializing. Some people want to move.

“There’s a huge opportunity here. It’s all about our enthusiasm for increasing outdoor opportunities and how we can harness the benefits that come from it and set up communities that provide those opportunities for long-term success.” What should I do?” he asked.

ORR will also support half of the first 10 communities to participate in the program in 2019 with additional funding, followed by tool kit To help others strengthen their outdoor economy.

In small towns, a little help can make a big difference, but the hunger for financial aid far outweighs the resources available. Nearly 300 communities applied for the federal program, and only 35 communities in total were selected, Perkins said.

Congress has a bill that could give more resources to recreational economic programs for rural communities. rural outdoor investment law That program alone includes $12.5 million.

This article was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau in partnership with Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio Station, Idaho, KUNR, Nevada, O’Connor Center, West Rocky Mountains, Montana, KUNC, Colorado, and KUNM, New Mexico. Produced by , with support from affiliate stations across the region. A portion of the Mountain West News Bureau funds are public broadcasting association.

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