PROVIDENCE – Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit is congratulating two individuals – State Land Conservation Program Manager Michelle Sheehan of DEM's Division of Planning and Development and Nancy Hess, Supervising Planner in the Department of Administration's Division of Statewide Planning – whose work on the updated RI Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) was honored this month by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA).
The 2019-2024 SCORP was the winner in the Comprehensive Plan category for the 2019 APA Award. A five-year plan for outdoor recreation management, conservation, and development, the SCORP will help create improved outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors and prioritize funding for future outdoor recreation projects throughout the state. The plan outlines the existing status, current needs, and future vision for outdoor recreation and open space protection and was informed by public input from Rhode Island's growing and changing population. With the SCORP's final approval by the US Department of the Interior in November, Rhode Island will continue to receive and distribute funds through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program through September 2024.
For more than three years, Sheehan and Hess worked diligently with local, state, and federal agencies on the project and heard from over 2,500 members of the public during the planning process.
"It is an honor and a privilege to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Michelle and Nancy have made to the SCORP to help create better outdoor opportunities for all Rhode Islanders and visitors," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Providing people with places to get outdoors and enjoy nature is part of DEM's core mission, is good for health, fosters our next generation of environmental stewards, and ensures Rhode Island remains a wonderful place to live. I'm heartened and thrilled that our colleagues at the American Planning Association have recognized the SCORP with this prestigious award."
The 2019 SCORP update builds upon the work of the Outdoor Recreation Council convened by Governor Raimondo in 2016 to develop an actionable vision for promoting and growing outdoor recreation in Rhode Island. The Council's Final Report highlights the importance of the recreational network to Rhode Island's economic and cultural vitality. Rhode Island is home to a wealth of historic parks, beaches, bikeways, and other recreational facilities. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs each year. A 2017 study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that State-managed parks and bikeways alone contribute $311 million to the economy annually and support over 3,700 jobs and nine million visits.
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