Officials ponder EPA, USDA outdoor recreation grant

By JOSH COTTON

jcotton@timesobserver.com

County officials are exploring a federal grant aimed at helping the county “revitalize their economy through outdoor recreation.”

The county commissioners discussed the joint Environmental Protection Agency and United States Department of Agriculture program during a work session on Monday.

An EPA statement describes the program: “a planning team will help communities bring together local residents and other stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy. The planning assistance process will take place over a period of four to six months, with a focal point being a two-day facilitated community workshop. Participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals… Partner communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and main street revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources.”

According to the feds, example of projects including trail network, amenities and marketing.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said the county is “going to move forward with the application albeit with some trepidation.”

He noted that a similar program was utilized in Forest County within the last few years and speculated that there may be trouble procuring funding given that Warren adjoins Forest.

But he said that they will still put the application together because the work that goes into it could be utilized in other grant opportunities.

Eggleston said the focus of the county’s effort would be the “river corridor” from Tidioute up to the Kinzua Dam and Jakes Rocks. The effort – if successful – would focus on “better access to the Dam” and “more engagement from the community and surrounding communities.”

The grant deadline is the end of the month and talked about allocating $2,500 to the cost from the county’s marketing budget, though he said the cost is likely “going to be much less than that…. The scope is going to be narrowed.”

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin noted that the marketing funds are a “smart use” because the county could reapply for program funding each year until successful.

COMMENTS