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Recreation Economy for Rural Communities is a new planning assistance program to help communities develop strategies and an action plan to revitalize their Main Streets through outdoor recreation.

Outdoor activities are increasingly popular across the United States and towns can take advantage of this trend to revitalize their Main Streets. By conserving forests and other natural lands and making them available for outdoor recreation, towns can boost air quality and water quality and focus development downtown. Promoting outdoor recreation can also create jobs and offer new opportunities for people to connect with the natural world. 

With Recreation Economy for Rural Communities assistance, a planning team will help communities bring together local residents and other stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy. The planning assistance process will take place over a period of four to six months, with a focal point being a two-day, facilitated community workshop. Participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals.

Partner communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and Main Street revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources by:

  • ensuring local residents, including young people, have connections and opportunities related to nearby outdoor assets to foster community pride, good stewardship, and local economic benefits;
  • developing or expanding trail networks to attract overnight visitors and new businesses and foster use by local residents;
  • developing in-town amenities, such as broadband service; housing; or shops, restaurants, or breweries, to serve residents and attract new visitors and residents with an interest in nearby outdoor assets;
  • marketing Main Street as a gateway to nearby natural lands to capture and amplify outdoor recreation dollars; and
  • developing a community consensus on the management of outdoor assets to reduce potential conflicts and ensure sustainable use of resources.

2019 Call for Applications. Communities are invited to apply for planning assistance from Recreation Economy for Rural Communities. The application deadline is Friday, May 31, 2019.