Outdoor Recreation Summit March 30

Article Published: Mar. 25, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Watauga County non-profits are looking for input to reserve area land for public use.
During 2009, the Watauga Tourism Development Authority (TDA) researched ways that the county could best use the area resources.

The TDA created a framework used to aid the activities on which participating groups decide.
"We want to ensure that access is available to our rivers and natural resources for many years to come," TDA outdoor recreation planner Eric Woolridge said.

The plan has a 10- to 15-year outlook, which will involve the local and state government along with local community groups to reserve land area. On March 30, there will be a summit meeting to present the findings of the research and take input from the community on the best way to progress.

Groups, such as the Climbers Coalition, Mountains to Sea Trail, Watauga River Conservancy, outdoor photographers and artists, and a number of others will be present for the summit.

Woolridge said there are several proposals already, which included a series of greenway and paddle trails along the South Fork of the New River and the Watauga River. He also said there were a number of new trails for hiking and mountain biking, which had been suggested.

The summit will primarily present the framework that was gathered from last year's research. The area groups are being encouraged to give their input for the land use and work them into the overall plan.
"We want to make Boone one of the premier, top-ten outdoor recreation areas in the country," Woolridge said.

Since the groups working together are non-profit organizations with individuals knowledgeable of the area's potential, the result of their work will be given to the public. The members of the Watauga County TDA, who conducted the research, are hoping the community as a whole can help fill in the missing elements and make these areas their own.

Woolridge said the TDA puts one third of its budget into the upkeep and development of the infrastructure in the county. These proposals will be included in the budget, but the TDA hopes that private companies, state and federal government, and individuals will match their spending for the plans.

Interested community members are encouraged to attend the summit at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center on Tuesday, March 30. The convention will begin at 6 p.m. The Broyhill Inn is located at 775 Bodenheimer Drive in Boone.

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