Giles County, VA — Recently, in support of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) are announcing that they have selected 10 communities under the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance program to help revitalize their Main Streets through outdoor recreation.
Several of the selected communities are in or adjacent to Opportunity Zones, economically-distressed areas that can be designated for preferential tax treatment under the president’s historic tax reform package. The 10 communities selected for assistance include: Cambridge, New York; Fryeburg, Maine; Giles County, Virginia; Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Gorham, New Hampshire; Grants, New Mexico; Jasper, Alabama; John Day, Oregon; Poultney, Vermont; and Thompson Falls, Montana.
“We are pleased to work with our federal partners to promote healthy outdoor activities and deliver on President Trump’s commitment to support and revitalize rural communities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Together, we will develop strategies that rural communities can use to grow their economies and make wise use of their natural resources.”
“What better way to sustain our nation’s forests, grasslands and watersheds than through partnerships that engage people directly in stewardship and foster community-driven economic opportunities,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.
An outdoor recreation trade association representative welcomed the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities planning assistance program. “We applaud this effort,” said Jessica Wahl, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) Executive Director. “ORR looks forward to working with the EPA, USDA and the Northern Border Regional Commission to help more communities invest in the recreation economy and time spent outside.”
Through Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance, a planning team appointed by the EPA and its federal counterparts will help the partner communities create an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy in ways that promote sustainable resource management and environmentally friendly community development.
The selected communities are planning to revitalize their communities in a variety of ways, including building new trail connections, boosting downtown amenities, connecting nearby hiking-biking trails to downtown, and working to attract recreation-related economic opportunities.
Giles County, Virginia, will work with the USDA Forest Service to manage and use Cascades Falls and other natural assets to attract residents and visitors to downtown Pembroke and other communities.
The planning process will take place over four to six months, with a two-day facilitated community workshop as the focal point. Participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals. Recreation Economy for Rural Communities is sponsored by the USDA-Forest Service, the Northern Border Regional Commission, and EPA.
Background According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 report on The National Outdoor Recreation Economy, outdoor activities – including hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting, birdwatching, off-road vehicle riding, skiing, snowmobiling, and viewing historic places – generated $887 billion in annual spending and created more than 7 million jobs. These activities can bring new investment to local economies, heighten interest in conservation of forests and other natural resources, and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.
The EPA Office of Community Revitalization supports locally led, community-driven efforts to expand economic opportunity, protect human health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. Through technical assistance, publications, research, tools, and grants, EPA is helping America’s communities turn their visions of the future into reality.
The USDA Forest Service develops and implements place-based recreation planning using collaborative processes with communities and outdoor recreation and tourism providers within regional destination areas. Forest Service recreation programs support over 205,000 jobs, the majority of which are in rural gateway communities near national forests. The agency partners with states, tribes, local communities, and landowners to promote shared stewardship of public and privately owned forests and grasslands.
Giles County, Virginia is located in Southwest Virginia approximately 40 minutes south of Roanoke and just west of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. With easy access to the New River, world class dining and lodging properties, and historical attractions for the entire family, Giles offers adventure in Virginia’s Mountain Playground™. Come find your playground at our Visitors Center located at 203 N Main Street, Pearisburg, VA 24134 or find us online at gilescounty.org or by calling 540-921-2079.
Virginia’s New River Valley: Virginia’s New River Valley is an eclectic mix of interconnected small towns that each offer their own unique vibe and appeal. The region provides an abundance of cultural and social offerings due to the presence of three world-class universities, while retaining the charm and benefits of small town living. The NRV is home to a diverse and innovative business community with companies that range from high-tech startups to foreign-based corporations to specialty agribusiness. These organizations benefit from the collaborative spirit of our region and a loyal, highly-skilled, and educated workforce. The scenic beauty of the region also fosters a deep connection to nature, which is deepened by access to outdoor recreation and the preservation of our natural environment. It’s clear why Virginia’s New River Valley is “A Natural Fit.”
Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.