Haines, Alaska (KINY) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and other partners to announce support for 25 small and rural communities across the country to expand their outdoor recreation economies.
Support is provided through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program.
Among the communities planning revitalization projects is Haines.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Haines Economic Development Corporation and its partners strive to better connect Haines’ natural assets to the community’s waterfront and downtown areas, improve transportation and hiking infrastructure, improve outdoor recreational facilities, including tourist lodging options, to improve and install signposts Visitors and residents alike can access the resources.
The local steering committee seeks to focus on balancing the labor landscape while preserving important natural resources and engaging and empowering Alaska’s Indigenous communities, including Klukwan and the Chilkoot Indian Association.
“Outdoor recreation can bring new investment to local economies, encourage people to revitalize existing inner cities and conserve natural resources, and result in improved quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy. “This support will help rural areas find ways that outdoor recreation can strengthen their communities, create jobs and increase access to nature for all.”
RERC is a planning assistance program administered jointly by EPA, USDA Forest Service and partners that helps rural communities use outdoor recreation to revitalize their highways, leading to improved environmental protection and public health outcomes . Communities are encouraged to pursue activities that promote environmentally friendly development and community 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, centered around a two-day facilitated community workshop. Participants will work together to develop strategies and an action plan to grow their local outdoor recreation economy. Several workshops are currently running.
The communities were selected from a pool of more than 100 applicants following an extensive multi-agency review process.