Warren County will be represented as the state seeks a vision for the future of outdoor recreation across the Commonwealth.
Jim Decker, president/CEO of the Warren County Chamber of Industry and a driving force behind the development of the Trails at Jakes Rocks, has been appointed to the Recreation Engagement Coalition as part of the state’s “Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania” effort.
“Being given this opportunity to be directly involved in establishing the focus and vision for the newly formed Office of Outdoor Recreation is an honor,” Decker said. “I look forward to engaging with peers from across the Commonwealth in shaping the focus of the Office to ensure equity, efficiency and focus on the issues impacting continued development and expansion of outdoor recreation as a catalyst for economic growth here in Warren County.”
“While Pennsylvania is a national leader in outdoor recreation, and our residents and visitors enjoy and benefit from our diverse and exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania has developed without the benefit of coordinated and strategic statewide leadership,” Nathan Reigner, director of outdoor recreation, wrote in a letter to Decker.
“To remedy this shortcoming and ensure ongoing and expanding economic, social, and environmental benefits from outdoor recreation, Pennsylvania is establishing an office of outdoor recreation,” the letter explained.
According to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Reigner’s position was created this year and his role is “to expand and ensure the benefits of outdoor recreation for all Pennsylvanians as individuals, communities and a commonwealth.”
He’ll serve as a “liaison” among industry, non-government organizations, users and government, per DCNR, which cites data that Pennsylvania has the sixth-largest outdoor recreation economy in the country.
Reigner cited Decker’s “long-standing interest in and success using outdoor recreation for development of your community and appreciation for the roles planning, partnership, monitoring, and adaptation play in this development will help us advance Pennsylvania outdoor recreation further along the path to productivity and success” in seeking his participation in the coalition.
And Decker already sees collaboration as essential in that effort.
“Based upon my experiences in the development of the Trails at Jakes Rocks, fostering collaboration between federal and state resources and programs is a critical priority, particularly in our region,” he said. “The TAJR can be a model in developing Public-Private Partnerships between local, state and federal entities and the private sector to pursue significant investment in outdoor recreation assets without consideration of the physical property jurisdictions involved.”
The coalition will first meet on Sept. 14 at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg followed by meetings on Oct. 12 and 13 in the State College area.
“Early engagement with government entities at all levels and understanding their inherent timelines for such engagements is crucial,” Decker said. “Government traditionally does not, and frankly cannot, operate at the ‘speed of business’ so project planning has to recognize and appreciate this reality.”