Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Announces Recipients of 2023 Rural Implementation Grants

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) announced the recipients of grant funding to help rural communities grow their local economies and make them more resilient through outdoor recreation. These grants are made possible through funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and help ensure that ORR can continue its charge to provide support, information, and resources to rural communities seeking to create economic opportunities through outdoor recreation.

This is the second cohort of recipients since the grant’s launch in 2021. In 2023,  grant sizes increased to $10,000 and will provide in-kind technical assistance from ORR members to awardees. For communities with big plans and limited bandwidth, this funding will help to unlock federal, state, and local match dollars from programs like USDA Rural Development, state infrastructure funds, and interest from private foundations.

“Rural communities all across the country are recognizing the strength and resiliency that investment in outdoor recreation can bring to local economies,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, President of ORR. “Thanks to the ongoing support of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, more places and people than ever will have the opportunity to experience the benefits of time spent outside. ORR is grateful for their support, congratulates the grantees,  and looks forward to celebrating the amazing projects that are borne from this funding.”

“ARC is pleased that the Appalachian community of Hartwell, Georgia is among the communities that will benefit from the latest round of ORR rural implementation grants,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “This grant will not only impact the region’s economy by boosting the outdoor recreation industry, but will continue ARC’s founding mission of connecting underserved communities to broader opportunities. I look forward to seeing the Hartwell area’s history honored and natural landscape enjoyed as the trail system continues to grow.”

“The beauty of the RERC program is in the way it rallies communities to celebrate the recreation assets they have and forms consensus on how to build upon those foundations.  ORR’s award to Marshfield, Vermont is both incredibly impactful and timely given the historic flooding Vermont endured this summer,” said Chris Saunders, Federal Co-Chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission. During the RERC process the town clearly identified the Cross-Vermont Trail as an asset it wants to utilize to strengthen the local economy. By awarding the town funds rebuild a key section of the trail ORR is not just helping the town and state recover sooner, but is ensuring this asset can continue to be a cornerstone of the town’s vision for a vibrant recreation economy.”

“EPA is so pleased that ORR and the Richard King Mellon Foundation are supporting our RERC community partners as they seek to boost outdoor recreation and main street revitalization,” said Steph Bertaina, manager of the RERC program at EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization. “These implementation grants will help these communities jumpstart their plans to build resilient, diverse outdoor recreation economies while protecting natural resources and the environment.”

“The U.S. Forest Service is committed to helping rural communities realize the economic and health benefits of forests. We are proud to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Northern Border Regional Commission, and Appalachian Regional Commission to provide technical assistance to help communities grow their outdoor recreation economy and revitalize their main streets,” said Alice Ewen, Assistant Director of Cooperative Forestry, Landowner Assistance. “ORR’s support is a big boost that helps communities take early action on their plans to attract investment and strengthen local economies and we’re excited to see what the newly awarded communities will accomplish in the coming months and years.”