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Governor Ned Lamont Announces Establishment of Connecticut’s Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences

In a move to enhance Connecticut’s outdoor recreation sector, Governor Ned Lamont announced the formation of the Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences under the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). 

This initiative marks a strategic effort to expand the state’s outdoor recreation economy through collaborative partnerships with the private sector.

The newly established office is set to manage a request for information (RFI) process, aiming to broaden the scope of services and amenities in state parks

This move is seen as a foundational step in forging new relationships with businesses, nonprofits, and other private entities, aligning with the state’s vision for conservation and outdoor recreation.

The announcement, made at Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, a family-operated business in partnership with Connecticut State Parks, underscores the potential of public-private collaborations in enhancing outdoor experiences. 

Governor Lamont highlighted the diverse range of activities available in Connecticut’s state parks, from skiing and tubing to scenic train rides, illustrating the state’s commitment to diverse outdoor recreation.

As per a release, Connecticut’s outdoor recreation demand has seen a significant uptick post-COVID-19, with state park visitation numbers soaring from nearly 10 million in 2019 to an estimated 17 million in 2022. 

This surge aligns with the growth of the state’s outdoor recreation economy, now valued at $4.6 billion and supporting close to 46,000 jobs. DEEP’s response includes the launch of an interactive state parks website, ctparks.com, further integrating the state’s tourism and outdoor recreation efforts.

The Passport to the Parks program, offering free parking to Connecticut residents at state parks, complements the Lamont administration’s recent $80 million investment in the Restore CT State Parks initiative. This initiative focuses on upgrading facilities across more than 40 park locations, enhancing the overall quality and accessibility of outdoor experiences.

DEEP’s RFI seeks to gather innovative ideas for new or expanded partnerships aimed at elevating the outdoor recreation experience in state parks. This initiative is not only about enhancing tourism but also about ensuring equitable access to outdoor activities for all visitors.

Commissioner Katie Dykes emphasized the importance of this initiative in aligning outdoor recreation with conservation efforts. She encouraged private sector organizations to participate and share their concepts for partnership, reflecting the state’s commitment to both outdoor enjoyment and natural resource conservation.

The RFI is part of a broader strategy to develop sustainable tourism and support local economic development. It aims to build upon DEEP’s existing successful partnerships, such as canoe and kayak rentals at Burr Pond State Park and the iconic Essex Steam Train in the Connecticut Valley Railroad State Park.

The outdoor recreation industry leaders have expressed strong support for this initiative. Chris Perkins from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable noted Connecticut’s alignment with other states in advancing the outdoor recreation economy. 

For campground and outdoor hospitality operators, this initiative presents a unique opportunity. The increased focus on outdoor recreation aligns with the interests of these businesses, offering potential for new partnerships and expanded services. The initiative could lead to increased visitation and revenue, as well as opportunities for campgrounds and hospitality providers to integrate their offerings with state parks.

The RFI process opens doors for these operators to propose ideas that could enhance the visitor experience in state parks. This could include developing new camping sites, offering unique glamping experiences, or providing specialized outdoor activities. 

Such partnerships would not only benefit the operators through increased exposure and business but can also contribute to the state’s goal of enhancing outdoor experiences for residents and tourists alike.

Featured image from Connecticut Parks.

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BlueFox1234
BlueFox1234
March 24, 2024 1:35 pm

Outdoor lovers in Connecticut, have you heard the exciting news? The new Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences is set to amp up state park services and forge cool partnerships for even more outdoor fun! Get ready to explore a world of adventure right in your backyard with enhanced park facilities and accessibility. Let’s go on an outdoor escapade together!

KurtVigil
KurtVigil
May 20, 2024 6:31 pm

Have you caught wind of Governor Ned Lamont’s plan for a thrilling ziplining course at Sleeping Giant State Park? Picture yourself soaring through the treetops, taking in the stunning views. And imagine feasting at a food truck fest by the beach at Hammonasset Beach State Park. Sounds like a blast, right?

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Governor Ned Lamont Announces Establishment of Connecticut's Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/connecticut/governor-ned-lamont-announces-establishment-of-connecticuts-office-of-outdoor-industry-and-experiences/