Feds look to assist Haines in growing outdoor recreation economy

    Haines, Alaska (KINY) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and other partners to announce assistance for 25 small and rural communities from across the country to grow their outdoor recreation economies.

    The assistance comes through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program.

    Among the communities planning to undertake revitalization projects is Haines.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Haines Economic Development Corporation and partners are seeking to better connect Haines’s natural assets with the community’s waterfront and downtown, improve transportation and trails infrastructure, boost outdoor recreation amenities including lodging options for tourists, and install wayfinding so that visitors and residents alike may access the resources.

    The local steering committee is seeking to focus on balancing the need to maintain the working landscape while also conserving key natural resources and on engaging and empowering Alaskan native communities, including Klukwan and the Chilkoot Indian Association.

    “Outdoor recreation activities can bring new investment to local economies, encourage people to revitalize existing downtowns and conserve natural resources, and lead to improved quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy. “This assistance will help rural areas explore ways that outdoor recreation can strengthen their communities, create jobs, and boost access to the outdoors for everyone.”

    RERC is a planning assistance program jointly administered by the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, and partners that helps rural communities leverage outdoor recreation to revitalize their Main Streets, leading to improved environmental protection and public health outcomes. Communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources.

    A federal planning team will work with each community over the course of four to six months, with a two-day facilitated community workshop as the focal point. Participants will work together to develop strategies and an action plan to grow their local outdoor recreation economies. Some workshops are currently underway.

    Communities were chosen following a comprehensive interagency review process from a pool of more than 100 applicants.


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