ELKINS, W.Va.,– Monongahela National Forest is pleased to announce that the Mon Forest Towns Partnership received the Governor’s Award for Regional Cooperation at a ceremony during the 2022 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Huntington. The award is presented to a group of individuals, communities or organizations that have initiated regional tourism development efforts involving two or more parties and have demonstrated cooperation or collaboration across county lines to strengthen the region’s identity as a travel destination.
The Mon Forest Towns Partnership was first conceived in 2017, formalized in April 2020, and now includes twelve communities in eight counties. The organization’s mission is to collaboratively grow a strong, sustainable recreation economy that enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors by providing the best outdoor experience. By working together, the towns have already seen amazing results and widespread support.
The partnership includes West Virginia University, USDA Rural Development, Monongahela National Forest, Woodlands Development Group and twelve gateway communities: Thomas, Davis, Parsons, Seneca Rocks, Elkins, Durbin, Petersburg, Franklin, Cowen, Richwood, Marlinton, and White Sulphur Springs.
Since the initiative began, the partnership has developed a strategic plan, each community has outlined priority projects supporting the recreation economy customized to each community and a marketing plan has been implemented. The partnership and its communities are working with WVU Extension and other WVU schools including the arts & design and landscape architecture, Region 4 Planning & Development, Benedum Foundation, Woodlands Development Group, Downstream Strategies, West Virginia Community Development Hub, and DARRE in collaboration to create a unified brand for the Mon Forest Towns.
In 2020, the partnership finalized the branding with a primary logo and each community has customized the elements of the logo to complement their own unique assets. In 2022, the partnership engaged 84 Agency to draft a marketing plan and implement a 2022 summer/fall advertising campaign. Sustainability planning of the partnership is underway and includes a retail strategy and stewardship programming. An executive director is expected to be hired this winter.
Learn all about the Mon Forest towns partnership and recreational opportunities at https://monforesttowns.com. Be sure to check out the most recent newsletter for all the latest happenings and follow along on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/monforesttowns.