The North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Coalition celebrates the recently enacted state budget. Passed by the NC General Assembly and signed into law on November 18, 2021, the new biennium budget includes over $500 million in funding for parks, trails, and conservation projects. It also directs the Director of the NC Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (ORIO) to create a statewide outdoor recreation industry action plan focused on the Confluence of States Four Pillars of Outdoor Recreation. As part of this new plan, the ORIO Director is tasked with the creation of the first comprehensive mapping tool of all of North Carolina’s outdoor recreation assets.
“We are extremely thankful for the tremendous bipartisan support the coalition received in addressing the industry’s priorities,” says Dave Petri, Board Chair for the NC Outdoor Recreation Coalition. “In particular, we are grateful to Representative Kyle Hall (R-NC) for his leadership and support of our rapidly growing industry. His support was instrumental in funding the state’s outdoor recreation plan.”
During fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the new state budget provides the following funding levels:
- $300 million to fund new parks, greenways, and open spaces, which serve as the outdoor industry’s critical infrastructure
- $90 million to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which will be split between state and local parks
- $115 million to the Land and Water Fund to support the expansion of parks, game preserves, and nature preserves, as well as stream restoration
- Creation of the Complete the Trails Fund with $29 million in initial funding designated to complete and operate the statewide trail systems
- Creation of two new state park units: The Roanoke River Paddle Trail and the Bakers Lake State Natural Area
Industry leaders across the state are applauding the General Assembly and the Governor’s office for the state’s commitment to North Carolina’s fastest-growing sector.
“We are particularly grateful for the $90 million dedicated to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which is key to helping communities create the parks they need to attract companies like ours with good jobs,” explained David Billstrom, CEO of Kitsbow Cycling Apparel. “The legislature’s wisdom in creating economic opportunity is evident by their provision of $29 million for completing trails across North Carolina with the Complete the Trails Fund. Bravo!”
The Outdoor Gear Builders of Western NC Board Chair, Laurel Scherer, said, “The OGB is thrilled to see that this new budget prioritizes the growth of outdoor recreation opportunities. We are encouraged by this leadership and support, which will help bolster the outdoor industry and outdoor communities in Western North Carolina and across the entire state.”
“With a long history in the outdoor industry, I’ve never thought of a better place than North Carolina to enjoy the outdoors and be in the outdoor business,“ said Tom Dempsey, CEO of SylvanSport. “The new budget’s robust support of both the industry and the magnificent resources in our state are truly historic and will ensure this outdoor legacy for generations.”
Chuck Millsaps, President of Great Outdoor Provision Co., stated, “As a NC outdoor retailer, we serve customers across our state and clearly see their appetite for outdoor activity continue to grow. We are excited to have a budget and the leadership committed to restore, protect, and expand our outdoor recreational resources for future generations.”
To learn more about these historic investments, click here.
About: The North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Coalition is the state’s leading outdoor industry trade association. Our mission is to support and serve North Carolina’s outdoor recreation industry by advocating for and enhancing the state’s thriving outdoor recreation economy. Our members include manufacturers, retailers, guide companies, outfitters, economic developers, local governments, academia, and conservation nonprofits. Together we are the North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Coalition.