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High Country Recreation Summit on April 23 Seeks To Elevate Local Opportunities

By Jesse Wood

On Thursday, April 23, a High Country Recreation Summit will take place at the Boone United Methodist Church to continue discussions on the importance of recreation – outdoor or otherwise – in the High Country.

The summit is titled “Elevating Recreation in the High Country” and takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. The summit is an Appalachian State University Recreation management program in partnership with the ASU Council for Outdoor Recreation Educators (CORE), Destination by Design and the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (TDA).

unnamed49Watauga County TDA Executive Director Wright Tilley said that this upcoming summit is a follow up of sorts to the Outdoor Recreation Summit that took place in 2010 to launch the Outdoor Recreation Master Plan.

That plan unveiled projects such as Rocky Knob Park, Watauga Gorge Park and the Middle Fork Greenway. The first two projects are finished, while the Middle Fork Greenway is underway with two of the six sections of greenway in between Boone and Blowing Rock paved and completed.

Tilley said he looks forward to sharing information about what’s been accomplished in terms of outdoor infrastructure in the past five years and hearing from the community on what projects should be considered in the future.

While the first summit was strictly an outdoor recreation summit, the meeting on Wednesday will also be open to discuss proposals for a recreation center near the hospital, a project that has been spearheaded by High Country Recreation.

Tilley said that outdoor recreation attracts visitors to the High Country and benefits the local community – in terms of both health and economic factors.

The public is invited to attend the event, which will kickoff with a 30-minute social featuring hors d’oeuvres. Recreation vendors and interest groups are encouraged to set up free booths during this time.

Eric Woolridge, a partner with Destination by Design and author of the Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Master Plan, will emcee the event. Presenters will include Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, High Country Recreation, Boone Area Cyclists, Middle Fork Greenway Association and High Country Pathways.

Following the presentations, attendees will be invited to participate in two breakout sessions to identify opportunities for recreation in the High Country.

According to a release, this summit has two objectives:

  • Revisit the 2010 Boone Area Outdoor Recreation Master Plan to celebrate and recognize accomplishments towards the goal of that plan. This objective will feature presentations from the government, non-profit, and private enterprises that cooperated in the implementation of the recreation plan.
  • Provide an opportunity for members of the public to discuss recreation in the High Country and identify opportunities for recreation expansion. Materials will then be collected and synthesized by CORE for presentation to county officials. The vision of these efforts is to elevate recreation in the High Country.