FRANKFORT, KY (1/26/12) – Senator Jerry P. Rhoads, D-Madisonville, has filed legislation (Senate Bill 116) that would allow local governments to have more tools at their disposal to create outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities.
SB 116 would enable cities and counties to enter into agreements with private and public landowners to make property available for outdoor recreational activities. A wide range of outdoor activities would be encouraged by the legislation, including adventure tourism, hiking trails, horseback riding trails, ATV trails, public hunting and other outdoor recreational activities. Local governments would have the flexibility to tailor incentives to their communities and regions.
“State authorities have seen tremendous success working with private landowners to open up their land to the public and expose visitors to the beauty of our Commonwealth,” Senator Rhoads said. “Local governments are in a better position to work with landowners, because they know them better; they know their local economy better; and they understand the needs of their community better.”
The primary goals of Senator Rhoads’ bill are to provide expanded recreational opportunities for Kentucky’s citizens and to bring more tourism dollars into Kentucky by helping local governments engage in economic development opportunities that include private land.
The bill would provide a number of economic incentives for private landowners to allow their land to be used for public recreation projects, including tax rebates, participation in user fees and cost sharing programs. Grants would be available to help promote the development of these recreational areas.
“Our cities and counties need more options and tools to create economic development through adventure tourism and this bill is intended to help local governments to promote these developments,” Senator Rhoads said, adding that he has received a lot feedback and encouragement from outdoor enthusiasts who would like to have these opportunities in Western Kentucky.
Senator Rhoads also said that the terrain in Western Kentucky is ideally suited for these types of recreational activities. “We want to provide recreational opportunities for our citizens as well as encourage others to visit the area,” he said.
The program Senator Rhoads envisions does not rely exclusively on public-private partnerships, however. The legislation also dovetails with Governor Steve Beshear’s Outdoor Recreation Plan, which emphasizes the strength and growth of local parks and recreation departments. Senator Rhoads worked with the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to ensure that legislation conforms with the Cabinet’s statewide objectives.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the Senate and House to move this piece of legislation through the process,” Senator Rhoads added.
SB 116 will be considered during the 2012 Legislative Session.
Senator Rhoads, who represents Hopkins, Henderson, McLean and Webster counties, has been a member of the State Senate since 2003.
Information provided by Leslie Caudill
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