Cumberland Plateau Outdoor Recreation Economic Analysis and Development Plan

About this Economic Analysis and Development Plan

The Cumberland Plateau Outdoor Recreation Economic Analysis and Development Plan is an strategic initiative to identify strategies to further support and grow the outdoor recreation economy in a way that facilitates increased economic impact and investment in surrounding communities.

Outdoor recreation is a growing and diverse economic sector that has immense capabilities to generate spending, support jobs, spur innovation, and improve health and wellness outcomes. In Virginia, the outdoor recreation economy generated $7.9 billion in economic impact, approximately 1.5% of the state’s GDP. This is great potential to capture and grow that economic impact within the Cumberland Plateau.

The aim of this study is to leverage key recreation assets to attract visitors, while maintaining strong connections between recreation areas and supporting services. The plan also offers avenues to offer a high quality of life to appeal to residents and employers.

Where is the Cumberland Plateau Located?

Cumberland Plateau in southwestern Virginia includes the counties of Russell, Dickenson, Buchanan and Tazewell. The region borders Kentucky on the west and West Virginia on the north. This rugged and beautiful mountainous area contains spectacular scenery and unique natural habitats of national and statewide significance. Inhabitants and visitors to the area enjoy a variety of natural resource-based recreational opportunities along with several parks and forest recreation areas.

Study Key Findings

The study provides an approach with the “Hub and Spoke” model that identifies several key assets that act as primary anchors and attractors for the region with a network of complementary and supporting assets that improve the attractiveness of the overall destination and extend lengths of stay for visitors. During this plan process, the Clinch River, Breaks Interstate Park, Town of Tazewell, and a robust network of motorized and non-motorized trails emerged as these anchors or hubs for the region.

The plan is supported by additional manuals including trail development guidelines, outdoor recreation community guide, and outdoor recreation business guide for the implementation and sustainability on future projects.

Our Guides

Project Leadership Team

Jim Baldwin
Cumberland Plateau Planning District

Kimberly Davis
Friends of Southwest Virginia

Jeff Mansour
Thompson Charitable Foundation

Idalina Walker
Friends of Southwest Virginia

Project Steering Committee

Jim Baldwin
Cumberland Plateau Planning District

Rick Barton

Austin Bradley
Breaks Interstate Park

Michelle Davalos
U.S Forest Service

Matthew Fields
Buchanan County

Jeff Mansour
Thompson Charitable Foundation

Heather Powers
Russell County

Sandy Ratliff

Virginia Community Capital

A.J. Robinson
Tazewell County

Kim Short
Heart of Appalachia

Rita Surratt
Dickenson County

Scotty Wampler
Cumberland Plateau Planning District

Michelle Workman
Virginia Tourism Corporation

Consultant Team

SE Group
SE Group is a planning firm working across the country to help communities strengthen their outdoor recreation offering and economy.

Mark Kane
Director of Community and Recreation Planning

Drew Pollak-Bruce
Senior Recreation Planner

Ellie Wachtel
Associate Analyst

Ayden Eickhoff
Planner and Analyst

Julia Randall
Planner and Analyst

Melanie Mckenzie
Planner and Analyst

CHM Government Consultants
Margaret Bailey

Contact Us

Friends of Southwest Virginia

1 Heartwood Circle
Abingdon, VA 24210

Special Thanks