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Full Agenda For County Tourist/Recreation Work Group

July 3rd, 2021

Potter County Tourism & Recreation Work Group dealt with multiple timely topics at its June meeting. The panel is part of the Revitalize Potter County campaign, a mission to reverse the population loss and rising median age in the county. For more information or to volunteer, contact Potter County Planning/GIS Director Will Hunt at whunt@pottercountypa.net.

Members Attending: Colleen Hanson, Ben Stone, Josh Roth, John Snyder, Lori Szymanik.

County Attendees: Will Hunt, Ellen Russell, Paul Heimel, Barry Hayman.

Guests: Nicole Faraguna (DCNR Policy/Planning Director); Bob Wicker (Potter County Education Council); Jason Childs, (Potter County Conservation District).

Potter County Canoe & Kayak Launch Sites. Jason Childs detailed the development of canoe/kayak launch points in several Potter County locations. Latest is under construction along the Allegheny River at the A&W West End Grill, east of Coudersport. Other Allegheny sites are in Roulette and Burtville. Also, launch sites have been built at the Genesee Community Park and along Pine Creek on Galeton’s east end. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has provided funding. Members discussed options for providing information for canoe/kayak enthusiasts on local attractions and history.

‘Pa. Engage’: Data from Hospitality/Tourism Industry. Bob Wicker presented a preliminary summary of findings from an intensive survey of four lodging facilities, seven restaurants and one tourist-based business. A more detailed summary and action plan will soon be released. Among the conclusions: a.) employers are unable to attract/recruit workers; b.) those in the hospitality and tourism market need to re-think how they are conducting business to adapt to changes in visitors’ expectations and to tap potential for business growth.

Denton Hill/Cherry Springs State Park Updates. Ben Stone (Bureau of State Parks) reported that three prospective partners/concessionaires to develop and operate Denton Hill State Park as a four-season attraction have toured the facilities. Deadline for proposals is July 9. He noted that state park visits to date have been lower than in 2020, and on par with trends prior to the pandemic. Ben also noted that plans are moving forward for the Cherry Springs State Park improvements and the Galeton Rotary Club Woodsmen’s Show will be held there Aug. 6-8.

Visit Potter-Tioga Overview/Update. Colleen Hanson said the agency has observed similar trends with fewer visitors than in 2020. Campgrounds have enjoyed a solid year so far, but traditional lodging facilities have not. VPT has launched its summer advertising campaign, emphasizing family fun in the outdoors and the appealing natural and peaceful experience available in Potter and Tioga counties. Click-through numbers on the VPT website are still high and requests for visitors’ guides are increasing, indicating strong interest in the two counties by prospective tourists.

Maryland Air Force National Guard Low-Level Training Flights. DCNR’s Nicole Faraguna reported on continuing research into the proposal. She said that once the air space from 100 to 8,000 feet is open, it could be used by other aircraft in addition to the Maryland Air Force National Guard A-10 Warthog. DCNR and others are still calling for a comprehensive environmental impact statement to be prepared prior to any decisions being reached on allowing the flights. Nicole suggested that those who are concerned about the impact of the flights consider options for educating the public on their potential impact.

Report on Northcentral Pa. ATV Pilot Project. Potter County Planning Director Will Hunt provided an update on the state’s regional all-terrain vehicle connector trail project. He noted that  a new video on ATV safety and legal operation is now posted online. Lori Szymanik (Susquehannock Trail Club) said STS is concerned about the impact of increased ATV traffic on forest ecosystems.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Josh Roth (administrator) said attendance has been excellent since the museum’s reopening. A full-time educator position will be filled; Lori Szymanik is serving on an interim basis this summer. One emphasis of the museum is to encourage guests to get outside for forest-based recreation and to observe sites that are related to the region’s lumber heritage.

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