Lakemont, GA—The Great Outdoors Fund (TGOF) facilitated a public-private partnership to improve recreation access and infrastructure on the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia.  The project kicked off with the partners transforming a decommissioned campground into a quality recreation area where people can picnic and enjoy themselves while visiting Oakey Mountain OHV Area anytime between sunrise and sunset.

TGOF forged the partnership between the USDA Forest Service, Georgia Recreational Trail Riders Association (GARTRA), and Yamaha Motor Corporation which provided funding from its Outdoor Access Initiative (OAI).  Yamaha also encouraged its employees, companywide, to participate in the six (6) volunteer workdays scheduled through the last Saturday in June.

The project started with the Forest Service and GARTRA committing money and volunteer services to repurpose the decommissioned campground. TGOF was then able to secure funding from Yamaha’s OAI which the Forest Service further leveraged by acquiring a Recreational Trail Program (RTP) grant from Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  The additional funding grew the size and scope of the project to include trail maintenance, parking improvements, a new loading ramp, and interpretive educational kiosks throughout the area.

We are excited to welcome an increasing number of visitors to national forests.  These trends enable us to provide equitable and high-quality access and safe recreation opportunities to evermore members of the public,” said Michelle Mitchell, Director of Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Services for the Forest Service’s Southern Region. “Volunteers and partnerships help maintain the public’s lands and foster a sense of shared stewardship in communities.  These benefits are all components of this project and top priorities for us. We appreciate Yamaha, The Great Outdoors Fund, and all of the individual volunteers who made this success possible!” 

“My family and I, along with other people that visit Oakey Mountain, specifically asked the Forest Service to repurpose and reopen this area,” said GARTRA’s President Bill Shilling. “So, we’re delighted to see the investment of money, time, and energy to help clear the brush and install new infrastructure which is all compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”

“We continue to see a huge funding gap to maintain or enhance our outdoor spaces,” said TGOF Founder Lori McCullough. “It’s estimated there is more than $100 billion in backlog maintenance, nationwide, which is why public-private partnerships like this are critical to ensuring people of all ages and abilities can access and enjoy our great outdoors.”   

“It was important to have a project like this, in Georgia, where we could put the funding from the Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative together with our corporate commitment to volunteerism and give our employees an opportunity to give their time and energy into a local riding area,” said Mike Martinez, President of Motorsports at Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. “Our ongoing partnership with The Great Outdoors Fund is a case study in public-private enterprises benefitting public outdoor spaces to ensure access for motorized recreation for generations to come.”

“There are so many benefits to being outside,” McCullough noted. “And it’s up to us to steward these lands, ensuring that future generations can enjoy them as much as we have.”

To support these types of projects or TGOF’s mission, please visit thegreatoutdoorsfund.org.

For more information about Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative, go to: http://www.YamahaOAI.com

To support cleaner communities and tackle the problem of litter across Canada, the Unsmoke Canada Cleanups program has awarded nearly $112,000 in grant funding to 21 Canadian nonprofit organizations. This is the third year The Great Outdoors Fund and Unsmoke Canada have collaborated on Unsmoke Canada Cleanups – a grant-giving program with the goal of empowering individuals to make a positive impact in communities across Canada.

“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Unsmoke Canada to administer the Unsmoke Canada Cleanups program,” said Lori McCullough, Founder of The Great Outdoors Fund.  “Since launching in 2020, the program has helped more than 40 organizations host cleanups that have attracted close to one million volunteers from across Canada who have removed an astounding four million pounds of litter which included nearly 800,000 cigarette butts. Together, we are making a difference in nearly every corner of our country.” 

Last year, during the height of the pandemic, Unsmoke Canada Cleanups provided $75,000 in grants to 19 organizations.  In light of the program’s success, funding for the Unsmoke Canada Cleanups program was increased and the organizations that have received funding will conduct cleanups in every province and two out of three territories in Canada.

2022 Unsmoke Canada Cleanups grants were awarded to the following organizations:

For more information, please visit unsmoke.ca.