The Pennsylvania Wilds Planning Team wants to recognize individuals, groups, organizations and businesses that have done outstanding work in the last year to help grow and sustainably develop the outdoor recreation economy in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Americans spend more than $600 billion each year on outdoor gear or on trips and travel to get outdoors.
The Pennsylvania Wilds region is in a good position to grow this industry, given its natural landscape and its manufacturing and product development background.
The 12 1/2-county region, which covers about a quarter of the state, boasts 29 state parks, eight state forests, 50 state game lands, two National Wild and Scenic Rivers, some of the darkest skies in the world, the largest wild elk herd in the northeast and a national forest.
Strategic planning, marketing, stewardship and infrastructure work is being done at the local, regional and state levels by a variety of public and private sector partners to grow the region's outdoor recreation economy and nature tourism industry in order to create jobs, diversify local economies, inspire stewardship and improve quality of life.
The "Champion" awards celebrate such work.
"Every time a local project ties in some way to the larger regional effort, it makes our region that much stronger," said Planning Team Chairman Dan Glotz. "It makes our region that much more of a destination or raises our collective awareness of how to help this industry thrive. Some of the projects and business efforts we've seen spring up at the local level are just incredible - and we want to make sure they get recognized. We invite the public to nominate champions from their areas."
Categories for the fourth annual Champion of the PA Wilds Awards include:
Awards will be presented at the planning team's annual dinner on May 2 at the Red Fern in St. Marys.
Nominations are due March 22. More details on the categories and application process are available at www.pawildsresources.org or by contacting Candi Hand at candih @pottercountyedcouncil.org or 814-545-1333.