BEATTYVILLE — The Lee County Tourism Commission is currently putting together a strategic trail development and marketing plan to work towards mapping existing outdoor recreational activities in Lee County, such as hiking, canoeing, mountain biking and rock climbing.
Dedra Brandenburg, executive director of Lee County Tourism and Economic Development, received a $7,000 grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission Flex-E-Grant program, which is administered by The Center for Rural Development. The grant is helping to fund the strategic plan.
According to Brandenburg, the plan will help guide their young tourism commission though development and marketing for trail systems in Lee County over the next 10 years. The goal is to map existing trails and set strategies in place for improving the trails and signage in an effort to bring more tourists, local hikers and climbers into the area.
“There are about 6,500 elite climbers in the world,” Brandenburg said. “They all come to the southern region of the Red River Gorge to climb in 1,000 acres of land in Lee County; purchased by the Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition.”
Lee County is also home to a popular climbing spot called “the Motherlode,” which is ranked one of the top three best locations in the world. Rock climbing is the county’s biggest attraction aside from lodging and their annual Woolly Worm Festival held each October.
Other activities in the 1,000 acres of the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve also include mountain biking and hiking. Lee County also has camping, cabin rentals, zip lining, museums, and other outdoor activities such as hunting, golfing, canoeing, fishing and local festivals.
“The goal is to simplify the marketing strategy and save advertising dollars as we have a limited budget,” Brandeburg said. “Being able to design the plan, has helped us a lot.”
Brandenburg hopes to not only attract more tourists, but to also educate the community about what they have to offer.
“We want to bridge the gap between tourists and the local community,” Brandenburg said.
The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute work together to award ARC Flex-E-Grant money to projects such as the one in Lee County that aligns with the goals of the program and support other regional initiatives such as Shaping Our Appalachian Region and the Kentucky Promise Zone. The grants provide a critical resource for communities to plan and implement projects that address both local and regional development efforts.
For more information on the ARC Flex-E-Grant program, visit www.centertech.com or call 606-677-6000.