CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Mon Forest Towns Partnership has adopted a five-year strategic plan for sustainable recreation and economic growth.

The partnership consists of four organizations—West Virginia University, USDA Rural DevelopmentMonongahela National Forest, Woodlands Development Group—and ten communities: Thomas, Davis, Parsons, Elkins, Petersburg, Franklin, Cowen, Richwood, Marlinton and White Sulphur Springs.

Mon Forest Towns Partnership established a five-year strategic plan.

The Mon Forest Towns Partnership was established in 2020. Their mission is to grow a strong, sustainable recreation economy that enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors by providing the best outdoor experience.

There are seven goals for this five-year plan:

  • Goal 1: Improve community health and wellness through promotion of outdoor recreation activities and infrastructure improvement.
  • Goal 2: Develop an outdoor recreation entrepreneurial culture by supporting the creation and growth of local recreation and tourism-based businesses.
  • Goal 3: Promote the uniqueness of the Mon Forest Towns and recreation opportunities in the region through collaborative regional marketing.
  • Goal 4: Develop world-class trails and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Mon Forest Towns region.
  • Goal 5: Increase employment opportunities in recreation-related fields to build a year-round recreation economy.
  • Goal 6: Create a downtown experience that recreationists would enjoy.
  • Goal 7: Develop a Sustainable Partnership Framework

According to the Marlinton Mayor, Sam Felton, the plan will sustain the economy of Marlinton throughout all seasons, rather than just the winter.

Marlinton in Pocahontas County is most popular for tourists in the winter because of activities like skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts like Snowshoe Mountain.

“The local restaurants have already seen an increase in their traffic, and really, we’re just getting started with what we believe will be a significant increase in visitors in the next, particularly in the next three to five years,” said Felton.

The Mon Forest Partnership has hired a grants coordinator and two AmeriCorps members through a partnership with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area. The new hires will help increase the capacity to leverage partnerships and secure grants to build a sustainable economy around outdoor recreation while promoting healthy lifestyles and creating economic opportunities for residents.