Deadline nears for ‘Champion of the PA Wilds’ nominations

The Pennsylvania Wilds Team wants to recognize individuals, groups, organizations or businesses that have done outstanding work in the last year to help grow and sustainably develop the outdoor recreation economy in the Pennsylvania Wilds – and they’re encouraging residents to get their nominations in now as the April 7 deadline is quickly approaching.

Americans spend more than 600 billion each year on outdoor gear or on trips and travel to get outdoors and 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 Commonwealth, boasts 29 state parks, 8 state forests, 50 state game lands, two National Wild & 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 are being done at the local, regional and state level 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 this 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 Chair 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 annual Champion of the PA Wilds Awards include: outstanding leader; tourism asset development and marketing; community character stewardship; conservation of natural assets; business development; youth outreach; artisan of the year; and outstanding event.

Awards will be presented at the PA Wilds Team’s Annual Dinner on May 15, 2014 at the Red Fern in St. Marys.

Nominations are due April 7. To apply online, click here, or visit www.pawildsresources.org and click on “Nominate a Champion” under Programs & Services. To download a PDF of the application, go to www.pawildsresources.org and under Quick Resources click on 2014 PA Wilds Awards Nomination. For assistance contact Candi Hand at (814) 545-1333 or candih@pottercountyedcouncil.org.

The Pennsylvania Wilds region includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Forest, Cameron, Elk, Clinton, Lycoming, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield and northern Centre.