Outdoor Recreation Stewards Program Kicks Off in Montgomery County

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Written by Celia Settlemyer, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Major

The Montgomery County Outdoor Recreation Stewards Program held its first meeting Thursday, February 16 at the Montgomery County NC State Extension Center. This was an opportunity to bring stakeholders from around the county together to share their valuable insights and glean useful information from guest speakers. Subsequent session topics will include forest management, tourism management, and leadership development centered around the Uwharrie National Forest.

Women kneels while writing on a large piece of paper on a stand.

Community member adds to list of assets.

The group began with an asset-mapping exercise identifying valuable resources in their communities. Participants listed natural, cultural, social, and human resources and then identified which previously listed assets were currently connected to nature or outdoor recreation.

Small group of people huddled over a table. One of the people is writing on a large pad of paper while the other folks giving input.

Community members listing assets at the first Outdoor Recreation Stewards Program Meeting

Examples of valuable assets in the area are Uwharrie Mercantile, a coffee shop that advertises the Uwharrie National Forest by promoting the legend of Bigfoot, and STARworks, situated along an outdoor walking trail frequented by a local running club. Troy’s downtown shops are also valuable assets as they sell outdoor goods, host outdoor events, and are connected to a walking trail that winds through nearby neighborhoods and along Main Street.

Next on the agenda was a presentation from Jesse Day, who brings a wealth of experience as Planning Director of the Piedmont Triad Regional Council. His organization has launched the  Piedmont Triad Outdoor Recreation Plan in an effort to document the Piedmont region’s, including Montgomery County’s, current natural assets and recommendations for future efforts. His presentation offered strategies and resources for attendees to become better-informed advocates for outdoor recreation and the Uwharrie National Forest. Following that demonstration was an open discussion regarding the recommendations and feedback from participants on addressing the most pressing needs of tourism in the local community.

This program is funded by the Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA).