Growing the Outdoor Economy in Western Maryland
Home to 170,000 acres of public land, (31% of the entire state’s owned acreage), Allegany and Garrett counties in Western Maryland are gateway communities to a large number of nature-based assets and four seasons of outdoor recreation opportunities. With over 500 miles of developed trail systems, one National Park, three state forests, 12 state parks, and 27 public water assets, our mountainous counties offer access to outdoor recreation thus providing a unique value that differentiates us from the rest of the state while generating important and sustainable economic and community development.

According to the Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic (MORE) Commission report, which was released in December of 2019, outdoor recreation-related expenditures generated $14 billion in annual consumer spending and 109,000 direct jobs in Maryland. Nationwide, the outdoor economy numbers are equally as impressive with $787.6 billion in consumer spending; $5.2 million jobs; and $125 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue. 
Western Maryland is well positioned to continue the tradition of collaboration to leverage a regional approach to the outdoors for economic growth, job creation, and tourism initiatives. Allegany and Garrett counties understand maximizing their close proximity to major metropolitan and consumer centers, four-season outdoor recreation experiences, rich quality of life assets, and the infrastructure that will attract and retain full-time residents will result in the highest quality of life to live, work, and play.

Legislative Priorities:
Continue to fund Program Open Space, Community Parks and Playgrounds, and the Local Parks and Playgrounds Infrastructure programs as the local jurisdictions rely on these funds to make capital improvements to enhance the outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and tourists.
Continue to fund the Maryland State Heritage Areas, which include the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West (Garrett County) and Passages of the Western Potomac (Allegany County).
Maintain Tourism Promotion Funding. The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maryland should continue funding tourism promotion at the same level as FY23 to remain competitive and generate additional revenues for the state. An increased investment in tourism marketing will generate additional tax revenues for the state and local governments.

Allegany County:  The River Park at Canal Place has the potential to transform Cumberland’s downtown, support our growing outdoor recreation economy, and drive economic impact in Allegany County and the State of Maryland. The proposed project would be located along the North Branch of the Potomac River in downtown Cumberland, MD, and is part of the North Branch Water Trail that begins in Westernport, MD, which extends 32 miles downstream to Cumberland, and ultimately flows to Washington, DC. The proposed project will complete the North Branch Water Trail system, improve water quality, advance wildlife passages, provide an exciting new downtown river experience, and increase awareness for Allegany County as a premier outdoor recreation destination.

Garrett County:  Continue County Cooperative Marketing Grant Program: The state should continue to direct $2,500,000 to the County Cooperative Marketing Match Grant program, with the goal of increasing the amount to $3 million to leverage more local funds and better assist local jurisdictions with promotion to recover from the pandemic. A portion of the $2.5 million comes directly to Garrett County tourism to help promote the county in our drive markets.

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