How should our region develop and promote its natural resources?

Johnson City Press • Oct 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM

In a positive development for our region, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Wild East Action Fund granted $55,000 to the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership to build a master plan for outdoor recreation.

The master plan will provide a framework for efforts across eight counties to encourage investment in and development and protection of outdoor recreation assets, businesses and talent.

Touting our region’s outdoor attributes is a supporting pillar of NeTREP’s plan for our economic prosperity. Ecotourism and spin-off businesses related to the industry can help us add jobs to our economy and better locals’ quality of life, officials say.

With the grant money, NeTREP’s Outdoor Task Force and an affiliated nonprofit contracted with consulting firm GreenPlay LLC, whose staff will host public listening sessions to help develop the master plan. Additional money, estimated to be $39,000, is needed for GreenPlay to finish the final phases of writing the master plan, and once it’s done, another $46,000 will be needed for an economic impact study.

Not every interested person in the region will be able to attend the meetings to take part in the conversation. Attendance at individual and small group meeting sessions are limited, but Recreational Zone meetings are fully open to the public.

Still, we’re sure some won’t be able to attend because of time or location constraints. That’s why we want to hear from you.

How should our region develop and promote its natural resources? What wild areas should we conserve? Where should we develop? Where do you think our strengths and weaknesses lie?

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