Combining outdoors and the economy
Gov. Phil Scott creates new collaborative
The Governor announced the initiative at a press conference recently which highlighted the decades-long work of land managers, nonprofit recreation and conservation groups, and outdoor recreation businesses to build this important industry.
"Vermont's landscape of forests, farms and communities - and their associated outdoor recreation opportunities - are a big reason why people choose to visit, live and work in Vermont," said Scott. "These assets must be wisely managed and strengthened, not only so we can grow the economic development potential of this sector, but also to sustain and enhance the value of the Vermont brand, the experience of visitors to Vermont, and Vermonters' quality of life."
In Vermont, outdoor recreation accounts for 34,000 direct jobs and $2.5 billion in consumer spending. This collaborative will be focused on more strategically coordinating and leveraging outdoor recreational resources and networks to expand the recreation economy, supporting economic growth across Vermont.
The immediate focus of VOREC will be to develop a strategy and specific action plan with measurable outcomes, including recommendations to:
- Contribute to efforts to market Vermont's outdoor recreation values and attributes to effectively foster economic growth;
- Examine and promote laws, policies and initiatives that encourage outdoor recreation business;
- Strengthen stewardship of outdoor recreation resources and the organizations that support them; and
- Encourage, incentivize and guide the development of community-oriented outdoor recreation assets, increasing economic impacts.
Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) Commissioner Michael Snyder will chair this 15-member task force. "I am honored to be asked to lead this effort," he said. "For it to succeed, we must root our work in the land and the forests, in environmental protection and stewardship, in the inimitable natural, cultural and physical assets that make our state the place we love to live, and the place that people the world over love to visit."
Vermont is the first state in Northern New England to undertake such an effort, but other states such as Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming have begun to focus on outdoor recreation as a primary driver for their economies.
"We are encouraged by what we are seeing in other states," said Snyder. "VOREC is poised to succeed because we already have such a strong land ethic, as well as an interconnected network of stakeholders, including an incredible volunteer base. Our outdoor recreation industry partners are ready and willing to engage in this effort. It is truly a watershed moment."
The collaborative will engage the public and other stakeholders in a variety of formats, including public meetings, online surveys and focus groups.
"This small group is really the engine of a much larger machine, which needs our partners to leverage their strengths and passions to co-create world class recreation experiences," said Jessica Savage, recreation program manager for FPR, and staff for VOREC.
To view the Executive Order, visit http://governor.vermont.gov/content/vermont-outdoor-recreation-economic-collaborative-executive-order-11-17.
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