Top Questions from AIANTA’s Recreation Economy Webinar

 On Thursday, May 16, AIANTA, in partnership with the USDA, Forest Service and USDA Rural Development hosted a webinar entitled “Resources for the Recreation Economy,” which offered tribal participants a look at how to tap into resources available to tribal entities looking to expand their recreation assets.

Knoll Lake, Coconino National Forest // USDA,

As we mentioned in our pre-webinar marketing materials, recreation means big business for rural communities. In total, recreation spending contributed $412 billion (or 2.2%) of the nation’s entire GDP, according to the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Additionally, America’s 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands support 200,000 full and part-time jobs and contribute more than $13 billion to local communities each year.

The webinar, which featured speakers from the USDA, was open to tribal participants around the United States and produced a variety of key resources for tribes. Additionally, participants led a robust Q&A session, with some of the top questions from that session highlighted below:


Can We Get a Breakdown of the $412 Billion Quoted?

$412 billion comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, who did an economic analysis in 2015-2016. The project, called the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, provides a summary of what activities and purchases were considered outdoor recreation. More information can be found at: – Toby Bloom


Does this Total Include Tribal Gaming?

It does not include tribal gaming.


Is There a List of Specific Grant Opportunities Available with Detailed Due Dates?

USDA underscores the importance of establishing direct lines of communication with your local Rural Development staff to keep updated on opportunities available in your area.

Rural Development publishes funding opportunities, Notices of Solicitation of Applications (NOSAs) here:

Also, AIANTA sends out a Funding Opportunity announcement monthly. Send an email to Gail Chehak to be added to the distribution list:


Can We Get Contacts for Rural Development USDA?

USDA RD contact info is available at


Are There Suggested Training Resources or Templates for Conducting Feasibility Studies?

There are definitely good books and templates on how to do that, but I really recommend trying to find a facilitator who has technical expertise in that area. It is complicated and difficult and you want to make sure that you get it right the first time because getting enough people together to make it significant and getting all of those opinions reflected in the document takes a lot of skill and practice. You will have a better outcome and a better product and subsequently, a better shot at getting grants and other services if you can get a professional to facilitate. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money on it, but there are a lot of people who have training in that type of facilitation. – Toby Bloom


Where Can We Find an Updated List of “Opportunity Zones”?

Opportunity zones are state driven.  Good sources of information would be; and


What is the Link to the EPA Forest Service Funding Opportunity?


What is NIFA?

NIFA is an agency within the USDA. NIFA stands for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  Their website is


What Was the Due Date for the Opportunity Toby Mentioned?

The deadline is May 31, but the initiative that we work on with Rural Development and NIFA is ongoing and there is no deadline. You can contact us to get put in touch with Rural Development for the specific funding opportunity through Forest Service, EPA and the Northern Border Commission. – Toby Bloom


What is the Definition of “Gateway Community” and What is Considered the Radius for a Gateway Community?

Gateway Communities include any communities that are adjacent to and have access to public land. That includes Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and other public lands. As Tim mentioned, while we work jointly on specific Gateway Community projects, none of the financial or business opportunities that Rural Development or NIFA provides are specific to those gateway communities.  If you are not in what we define as a gateway community, there is still the availability of these services and grants for communities that are interested in developing the recreation economy.  – Toby Bloom


What Projects are Happening in Nevada?

Projects in Nevada are not necessarily tribal specific, but kind of a regional effort. This area is looking at establishing a mountain biking economic driver up in the northern Nevada area, and I think there was a series of meetings to look at how the region as a whole region can focus on bringing the tourism component into the area.

This is a fairly new initiative, and I think other than having internal talks with Forest Service staff, AIANTA is the first organization that contacted us to have a webinar. You guys are the first one to kind of get on the bandwagon as far as our new work with the recreation economy. – Tim O’Connell


Can You Repeat the Information About the Rural Business Development Grant Program?

Unfortunately, like Tim mentioned with the grant, that application deadline has passed for this fiscal year. The nice thing about the Rural Business Development Grant program is that it does have funds appropriated specifically for federally recognized tribes.  For more information, see

As long as 75% of a project would benefit members of federally recognized tribes, applicants can qualify for the tribal funds. Last year around $4 million was set aside in that program specifically for tribal projects to promote job creation, which could directly flow into your recreational economy plans and priorities. I would recommend that folks keep that program in mind and learn more about it at your local RD office.  – Tedd Buelow


For more information, contact:

Tedd Buelow, National Native American Coordinator
USDA Rural Development Innovation Center  |  (720) 544-2911

Timothy W. O’Connell, West Region Coordinator
USDA Rural Development Innovation Center  |  (503) 414-3396

Toby Bloom, National Program Manager of Travel Tourism & Interpretation
U.S. Forest Service |  (240) 330-2260

Listen to the Webinar

To listen to the Resources for the Recreation Economy Webinar in its entirety, an archived version can be found at

Please note: questions and responses in this document have been edited for brevity and clarity. To hear complete answers, be sure to listen to the original webinar.