The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in announcing assistance for communities across the country—including Buchanan and 11 Appalachian communities—to grow outdoor economies and revitalize their main streets.
The EPA also joins the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) to announce assistance for a total of 25 small and rural communities from across the country.
Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) will help Appalachia invest in strategies promoting local nature and culture, and fund projects like new trail systems and river access improvements: https://bit.ly/3Atl6PN.
RERC is a planning assistance program jointly administered by the EPA, the USDA Forest Service, NBRC, and ARC 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.
The following Appalachian communities were selected: Town of Buchanan; Beverly, Ohio; City of Buena Vista, Va. – Government; Clairfield, Tenn.; Columbiana, Ala – Main Street.; City of Coshocton, Ohio – City Hall; Visit Fayetteville, W.Va.; Hartwell, Ga.; City of Jenkins, Ky.; McKee, Ky.; Salamanca, N.Y; and South Point, Ohio.
The communities are planning to undertake a variety of revitalization projects which include:
- building new trail systems;
- improving access and walkability along Main Streets;
- increasing access to outdoor activities for all residents and visitors;
- strengthening outdoor recreation businesses;
- adapting to the climate impacts that affect coastal resources, wildfires, and winter recreation opportunities;
- cleaning up and repurposing vacant buildings; and
- creating new parks and recreation amenities.
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.