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State outdoor recreation meetings held in the Lehigh Valley

Pennsylvania’s Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner is visiting all corners of the state to discuss with stakeholders how his role can better support the industry as well as creating a state office of Outdoor Recreation.

"We all have interests in this thing called outdoor recreation," Reigner said during the third of nine meetings in Easton on Thursday, April 6.

Around 50 people representing various government, recreation and environmental organizations from the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos attended the Growing Outdoor Recreation for PA stakeholders meeting at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton.

Reigner hopes the state and the stakeholders can combine their skills and talents to use the growing outdoor recreation economy to advance community development and economics and improve public health.

During the meeting, he also discussed what a possible office of outdoor recreation would look like for Pennsylvania.

“How do we need to shape it up to support your needs," Reigner asked.

The group discussed many ideas about the office; it could help with more funding for land conservation and park projects, provide better communication statewide and even offer translation services.

They also discussed the need for volunteers in the outdoor industry and how to change the culture so people are more thoughtful about what they leave behind in outdoor spaces. The topics at the meeting ranged from needing more land in the region for motorized recreation to where investments can be made in infrastructure for outdoor recreation.

Claire Sadler is the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor’s executive director. She participated in a four-member panel who discussed their roles in the local outdoor economy.

Her organization is working to create a continuous 165-mile trail from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol and along that route, connect with the many other trails, parks and outdoor recreation opportunities as well as businesses.

“I think it's really important to think about how we each have our own ways of using trails," she said. "You can't even imagine ... the breadth of ways that each community member needs them or wants them."

Pennsylvania has the sixth largest outdoor recreation economy in the United States, said Reigner.

"Pennsylvania is a heavyweight when it comes to outdoor recreation," he said.

Ultimately the meetings help to expand the network of stakeholders so that Harrisburg can better serve and support them.

Reigner is holding two stakeholder meetings locally this week. The first is at Lycoming College in Williamsport on Wednesday, April 11, followed by Montage Mountain Resorts in Scranton on Thursday, April 12.

For more details, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org
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