Yes, Virginia, there will be running races again this summer …provided cases don’t spike.
Governor Scott came out with a number of big announcements today that will impact outdoor recreation and events in Vermont.
At his morning press briefing, Gov. Scott announced a blueprint for reopening businesses, retailers and events. The plan, as outlined below, will allow for outdoor gatherings of 300 or more by May, 900 by June and will have a goal of removing all restrictions, including travel restrictions, by July 4.
Gyms may reopen. Adult sports leagues can resume outdoors. Trainers can work one-on-one with clients and as of April 23, indoor and high contact sports get the green light as well (subject to these restrictions.) .
That said, the state is encouraging everyone to follow what Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development Lindsay Kurrle called the 5 step guidelines: stay home if you are sick, wear a mask, keep 6-foot spaces between people, practice good hygiene and know the travel restrictions.vermont-covid-reopening-plan
The new blueprint will help event organizers, in particular. While events such as the May 16 Vermont Sun Half Marathon on Lake Dunmore Triathlon and May 22 Dandelion Run half marathon put on by Kingdom Games in Derby have been banking on this reopening and are in full planning mode, others have been more tentative about taking registrations as there was still uncertainty about whether or not the state would permit those events to happen in person. For The Ranger gravel ride, registration opened quietly with some uncertainty about whether the Tunbridge fairgrounds could still serve as a home base and how that might look. The blueprint will bring a sigh of relief to them and many others.
A Further Investment in Outdoor Recreation
A second announcement from Montpelier today referenced how Vermont will use the $1 billion in federal American Recovery Plan funds. While the bulk of that will go toward key infrastructure needs including housing, broadband, water and sewer projects, climate change mitigation and economic development, Gov. Scott’s press release did highlight that some of the funds could be used for outdoor recreation. In particular to:
“Fund transformational outdoor recreation destinations to seize the growing market of outdoor enthusiasts and make Vermont and Vermont’s hospitality businesses their favorite destination. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, more Americans have turned to outdoor recreation activities during COVID19 than they have in recent history, many for the first time. New participants in outdoor recreation were motivated by activities with low barriers to entry such as walking, running, biking, and hiking. We can continue to grow this important sector of Vermont’s economy, which in turn supports hospitality-dependent communities and businesses that have been so hard hit by COVID-19. Much like the work of the Green Mountain Club in 1912 to build not only the Long Trail, but the amenities to support its use, this is an opportunity to invest in expanding and creating recreational destinations that will keep Vermont on the minds of active travelers for the next 100 years. We will fund major outdoor recreation projects that will enhance and expand access, better connect outdoor recreation areas with their host communities, and improve parking and other amenities needed to support usage. Projects will range from enhancements to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail with spurs for parking and to access towns year-round, to creating shelters and entrance/exit points for regional paddling trails and hiking trails.”
This comes on the heels of Gov. Scott’s budget address where he dedicated more than $22 million (pending legislative approval) for outdoor recreation. In April, the Scott administration also announced the first full-time hire to oversee the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative and the grants it is tasked with disbursing and monitoring. Jackie Dagger will be taking on the role in May and her positio will be funded by a grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission, which is also funding similar positions in New Hampshire and Maine.
“Jackie brings a strong background in project management, facilitation, strategic community outreach, public engagement, and outdoor recreation industry experience, and is ready to hit the ground running on all VOREC’s work, including the $5 million VOREC community grant program,” Michael Snyder, Commissioner of the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation wrote in an email. Dagger is originally from Vermont, and will be moving back to the state from Seattle, Washington and begin at the end of April.