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Grants will benefit outdoor recreational tourism industry

Outdoor recreational businesses in Vermont will be seeing an influx of state dollars, Gov. Phil Scott said.

The governor announced 24 businesses have been selected by the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative to receive grants in 11 of the state’s 14 counties to help bolster the outdoor economy as tourist season is just around the corner.

“Vermont’s natural beauty, combined with outdoor recreation opportunities, are economic engines for our state and a driving force for why people visit and live in Vermont,” Scott said in the release. “These grants will help continue to connect trails to downtown centers, develop new recreation assets and promote all we have to offer.”

The projects selected will advance outdoors-related business, recreational resources, health and wellness initiatives, and environmental stewardship, according to the release.

The grant program, according to the release, is designed to aid communities to fully leverage local outdoor recreation points to become outdoor recreation friendly communities.

The organization’s steering committee was developed by Scott in 2017 to promote stewardship of the state’s recreational outdoor activities and received investment in the state budget in 2021 allowing up to $5 million in grants, according to the release. The investment allowed the program to triple in size.

“The substantial funds provided for this round encouraged communities to think big to leverage outdoor recreation and the many benefits that stem from it, from economic impacts to environmental stewardship to public health,” VOREC Chairman and Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder said in the release. “This is an exciting time for Vermont: not only do we realize in new ways the importance of outdoor recreation, but we’re also seizing meaningful opportunities to make outdoor recreation even stronger and more accessible.”

Grant recipients, according to the release, include the completion of the master plan for the Vermont Trail and another to pilot the Vermont River Access Collaborative.

Funding will be used to complete projects that will connect and continue to develop statewide recreational assets that will permit better wayfinding, programming, and resources that will connect pedestrians and bikers accessing the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, according to the release.

The Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance, according to the release, will utilize state dollars in a fashion to support the workforce and develop outdoor businesses through technical programs.

Burlington will use $300,000 from the grant program for gear lending programs and tool rentals, according to the release. In addition, Ascutney Outdoors will use $190,500 to provide children free ski equipment rentals.

In Bennington County, Pownal will receive $375,000 to create a 79-plus acre recreation area and trail network that will feature parking, an information kiosk, and a pedestrian bridge.

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