The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) today announced grants that can foster environmentally friendly community development, but none of them are coming to New Jersey.
The funds will provide assistance for 25 small and rural communities from across the country to identify strategies to grow their outdoor recreation economies and revitalize Main Streets through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program.
The agencies selected communities all across America but no announcements were made by Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, or any of the Garden State’s dozen members of Congress, since none of the awards were made locally.
For decades, New Jersey has received far less from the federal government that our residents send to Washington DC in tax dollars.
“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.”
“The economic impact of outdoor recreation near our national forests and grasslands is vital to support health and prosperity in rural America,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Efforts to reinvigorate main streets through the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program is an important step to help communities realize all the benefits that adjacent national forests and grasslands make possible.”
“The travel and tourism industry in Appalachia is among the region’s fastest-growing employment sectors, generating more than $4.5 billion in local tax revenue and employing more than 577,000 Appalachians,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program builds on our region’s economic development potential by investing in Appalachia’s local heritage and natural assets, which will lead to more vibrant downtowns and expanded growth for outdoor recreation industries. We congratulate the 12 Appalachian communities chosen to be part of the RERC program.”
“Communities in the Northern Border region are increasingly investing in outdoor recreation in ways that strengthen their local economies,” said Chris Saunders, Federal Co-Chair of the NBRC. “The work made possible through this federal partnership will ultimately lead to investments that not only bring new visitors and tourists into rural New England and New York, but also improve the recreation opportunities and quality of life of local residents.”
“The Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program is exactly what rural America needs to harness the high demand for outdoor recreation and develop sustainable economies that benefit locals and visitors alike,” said Jessica Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The $689 billion outdoor recreation economy benefits greatly from continued government investment in programs like these that work on the ground and positively impact people, place and planet.”
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.