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Raquette River Corridor Project to Host Workshops in August


PLATTSBURGH, NY__I wish...What if....Why not...? This is the stuff from which dreams are made. But for 17 communities nestled along the Raquette River, from Blue Mountain Lake to the Akwesasne Indian Reservation, these questions might also form the blueprint for their economic future.

The Raquette River Corridor Project Advisory Committee is a volunteer group seeking ways to enhance the tourism potential of the 170-mile river corridor. The committee is working with the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, which is helping to coordinate the corridor project's strategic planning process. 

The advisory committee is inviting individuals with a stake or an interest in improving the region's tourism business to participate in a series of visioning workshops in August.

The workshops will be held:
* Thursday, Aug. 3 at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake
* Thursday, Aug. 10 at Norwood-Norfolk Central School
* Thursday, Aug. 17 at SUNY- ESF Ranger School in Wanakena

All of the workshops will start promptly at 5:30 p.m.; a light dinner (pizza and refreshments) will be provided at 5 p.m. In order to determine an accurate number of attendees for each session, please register via email to m[email protected] or call 518-564-3215. Further information, including directions, will be sent prior to the sessions.

These workshops will assist the advisory committee in identifying strategies to use the river as a significant catalyst for economic growth and employment. This process can also help determine the best mix of uses for the river, including what areas could be developed and which ones should be protected. As the process continues, the advisory committee will develop a vision including a step-by-step strategy to maximize the potential of river-related tourism.

"We are asking people who live or work along or near the Raquette River to participate in these sessions," said Joann Ferris, chairperson of the Raquette River Corridor Project Advisory Committee. "We want to know how they use the waterfront and the river corridor, why they value it and what they see as current problems and opportunities.

"We are hoping that people will bring their ideas, their energy and their concerns to one of these sessions. Together, we can be the engine that drives the planning and management of the corridor's natural and cultural resources while respecting the identity and character of host communities," said Ferris.

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The Town of Colton initiated efforts that led to the formation of the Raquette River Corridor Project (RRCP) in 2002 with the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. Its goal was to encourage cooperation and interaction among the townships along the river. Today, most of the communities along the 170-mile corridor have joined the effort. Together, they are seeking ways to enhance and promote the tourism potential of the river corridor while protecting its natural resources.

The Advisory Committee is hoping to use the Raquette River as the focal point to attract visitors and to connect communities along the corridor. For many of these communities, the Raquette River already represents an important part of the local economy. Virtually every town and village along the river is becoming more aware of the benefits from developing their existing local resources into nature-based tourism attractions.

According to statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Ecosystems and Communities, nature-based tourism and recreation generated more than $20 billion in economic revenue in 2004. The Outdoor Industry Association also reported that 20.8 million Americans went canoeing and 12.6 million went kayaking in 2005.

"We all need to know what nature-based tourism can do for us," Ferris said. "Successful development can only take place when government, businesses, developers, financiers and citizens have a positive and assertive attitude toward establishing and sustaining a tourism-based community economy. To be sustainable, it must be planned and managed to ensure a continuing high quality, four-season outdoor experience for both visitors and community residents."

Nature-based tourism generally costs little to start and is cleaner than many other industries. It also has the potential to:
* Benefit nearly all the citizens of the community in some manner
* Promote resource conservation, preservation and pride
* Increase the quality of outdoor recreational opportunities
* Create new jobs
* Bring new and repeat visitors to the corridor, generating tourism dollars for waterfront communities.


The team advising the Racquette River Advisory Group includes TAC staff as well as Janet Kennedy, director of Lakes to Locks Passage; Dr. Richard Lamb, SUNY Plattsburgh professor of earth and environmental sciences; and John Parmelee, SUNY Plattsburgh instructor of restaurant, hotel and tourism management.

More information about the workshops is available on-line at the Raquette River Corridor Project Website (http://www.racquetteriver.org ) or by contacting TAC at 518-564-3215.
     
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