Partners Leverage Resources to Enhance Recreation Access and Opportunities in Georgia

by The Great Outdoors Fund

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

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