TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — How would you like to see outdoor recreation evolve locally? The developers of the county’s draft 2018 Outdoor Recreation Implementation Plan are looking for public input before it is finalized.
The plan seeks to expand outdoor recreation and tourism related to local natural amenities, such as Cayuga Lake, the gorges and waterfalls, trails, parks and natural areas. The plan identifies steps to take over the next few years to develop and promote Ithaca and Tompkins County as a “premier regional destination for outdoor recreation,” a news release said.
In addition to improving the quality of life for local residents, growing outdoor recreation could bring in more tourism dollars. Tourism is already an important part of the local economy, bringing in about $200 million in economic activity and 3,500 jobs, the plan states. The gorges and state parks are already a big draw for tourists, outside of the colleges. According to a 2010 Tompkins County Visitor Profile Study report, 45 percent of leisure visitors ranked “Gorges and State Parks” as an important motivator for their trip to the county.
The draft plan is structured under five ares of opportunity: water-based, hiking and running, bicycling, kids in nature and niche and adventure.
The plan proposes two new structural changes to the Tompkins County Tourism Program investments, which would find ways to put aside money to advance outdoor recreation tourism and encourage more projects.
There are six key actions listed in the executive summary of the draft, including:
- Blueprint for Better Bicycling — An initiative to improve street bicycling infrastructure in Ithaca’s urban core to “create safe, comfortable on-street connections between the downtown and waterfront, between multi-use trails, and between visitor attractions.”
- Priority Trails Strategy — This would expand the Tompkins County network of multi-use trails.
- Cayuga Lake Blueway Trail — The plan calls for actively developing this water trail, which has been in the works as a way to explore Cayuga Lake on non-motorized watercraft.
- Planning and Development for Enhanced Access to Public Lands and Waters — A plan to improve under-invested areas, such as the Six Mile Creek Natural Area and Hammond Hill State Forest, among others. This also calls for trail enhancements, such as expansion, signage, mapping and parking.
- Kids in Nature Attractions & Organizations — The plan calls for partnering and investing in organizations that support kids in nature, such as Ithaca Children’s Garden and Cayuga Nature Center.
- Cayuga Lake Birding Trail — This calls for the development of a birding trail with a dozen or more sites close to Cayuga Lake with anchor sites at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Investments would include marketing and signage, as well as an interactive website.
Comments are due by 4 p.m. Monday, April 9.
Written comments may be submitted in one of three ways:
- Online via the Tourism Program email address firstname.lastname@example.org
- In person at the Tompkins County Planning and Sustainability Department (121 E. Court St.)
- By mail to the Planning and Sustainability Department at the address given above.
Featured image: Treman State Park. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice