A new group will help support Pennsylvania’s growing outdoor recreation industry.
Called the Recreation Engagement Coalition, the 50-member group was established by the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
Representatives from all industries and corners of the state make up the coalition, including five leaders from Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.
Lewisburg Mayor Kendy Alvarez is a member of what the state is calling the REC.
In July, Alvarez was in Harrisburg for a conference. She spoke with state Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner about why outdoor recreation is important for Pennsylvania. They discussed how the Susquehanna River Valley is a prime location for outdoor recreation. After finding out about Reigner’s new role, Alvarez said she’d love to be involved.
“As someone who isn’t traditionally outdoorsy, I feel like I have a lot to contribute to the conversation of outdoor recreation,” she said. “I offer a diverse perspective on the outdoors, but also someone who appreciates and understands the economic value that it brings to a lot of our rural communities.”
The coalition met for the first time Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence. They will meet again for two days in October to help build Pennsylvania’s Office of Outdoor Recreation.
The group will do some strategic planning and figure out what the office will need to achieve its goals, she said.
“Because there are, it’s a very interesting and varied set of backgrounds and experiences, that we’ll have a pretty comprehensive look at what outdoor recreation could potentially be for Pennsylvania,” Alvarez said.
Lori Phillips from the PA Ski Area Association, based in White Haven, is also serving on the REC, along with Jason Fink from the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce; Mary Kolessar from Discover NEPA; and Sierra Fogal from Pocono Whitewater in the Lehigh Valley.
DCNR manages 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forests. The outdoor recreation industry adds $12 billion in value to Pennsylvania’s economy and 150,000 full-time jobs, according to the state.