ROANOKE, Va. (July 18, 2019) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) celebrates the establishment of the Office of Outdoor Recreation today by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. According to the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, outdoor recreation is responsible for $734 billion in economic output for the United States and supports 4.5 million jobs. Outdoor recreation is incredibly important to the Appalachian Trail, which sees more than 3 million annual visits from those who benefit from a protected and accessible Wild East™ landscape.
Virginia joins 12 other states with offices of outdoor recreation and two states with outdoor recreation task forces. It is the fifth A.T. state (along with Maine, Maryland, North Carolina and Vermont) to dedicate professionals to ensuring that outdoor recreation is recognized as an essential part of the local and regional economy, balancing the needs of outdoor recreators—including access to public lands and swimmable, drinkable water—with sustainable conservation practices. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) reports outdoor recreation in Virginia accounts for 197,000 direct jobs, $6.5 billion in wages and salaries, and $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. Additionally, OIA reports that Virginians are more likely to recreate outdoors than many Americans.
Following the announcement of the office, Gov. Northam visited the ATC’s office in Roanoke to meet with Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Director Andrew Downs. Downs gave Gov. Northam a presentation on the role the Trail plays in the outdoor economy of communities throughout western Virginia, as well as information on the ATC’s Konnarock Trail Crew, and the planned Trail Center in Damascus, Virginia.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is honored to host Gov. Northam today to speak more about the vital role the Appalachian Trail plays in outdoor recreation and the importance of preserving the Wild East™ for future Virginians and visitors to the Commonwealth,” Downs said following the meeting. “Making sure that communities in Virginia have the ability to promote our forests and trails as destinations and improve access for all is critical to keeping our economies and our natural resources strong.”
ATC is committed to promoting outdoor recreation and the valuable dollars it brings into, and keeps within, rural economies. Through the A.T. Communities™ program, ATC works with locally driven, community-based organizations to promote their natural, cultural, and location-specific resources. ATC currently has more than 40 designated A.T. Communities, including 15 in Virginia. For more information on A.T. Communities and rural economic development, visit www.wildeast.appalachiantrail.org/atcommuntities.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy:
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Media Contact: Andrew Downs
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
416 Campbell Avenue SW | Suite 101
Email: [email protected]