Virginia Adds Office of Outdoor Rec

Embatteld Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation last week at the state’s Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. State and regional officials joined Northam for the ceremony in Botetourt County. Northam said a new statewide office will capitalize on a “recession-proof industry” in Virginia before he paddled across Carvins Cove in a kayak.

The OREC will operate out of the governor’s office and advocate for the state’s parks and other outdoor activities and recruit new outdoor businesses with a focus on manufacturers of outdoor products such as kayaks and bicycles.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick will serve as director. Agencies working to promote Virginia’s outdoor assets and business climate will provide staffing. Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler also will work with the office.

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Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership, said he began urging the state to develop an outdoors recreation office three years ago.

“Our rivers and trails are much more than just dirt and water when we strategically cultivate, nurture, curate, protect and invest in our natural assets,” Eshelman said.

Photo: Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Cassidy Rasnick (right center) applauds as Gov. Ralph Northam (center) announces the creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation on Thursday at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. Rasnick will serve as director of the statewide office, which plans to promote the outdoor recreation industry, state parks and new outdoor businesses in Virginia.

HEATHER ROUSSEAU The Roanoke Time