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Elkins joins Mon Forest Towns Partnership

ELKINS — Elkins is officially a member of the Mon Forest Towns Partnership with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

The partnership has been in the works for more than two years and is focused on creating a shared vision for the recreation economy in rural communities in and around the Monongahela National Forest. As part of the launching of this partnership a Mon Forest gateway sign will be placed within the city limits of Elkins at one of the main intersections coming into town.

The partnership includes West Virginia University, USDA Rural Development, USDA Forest Service, and, most importantly, ten gateway communities in and around Monongahela National Forest — Cowen, Davis, Elkins, Franklin, Marlinton, Parsons, Petersburg, Richwood, Thomas and White Sulphur Springs.

Gateway signs like Elkins’ will go up in each town this spring and summer, with unique amenities and recreation icons for each town, highlighting each town’s distinctive character and also uniting us under a common logo. Elkins’ sign features biking, train and lumber, and music heritage to highlight recreation opportunities right in our town. Elkins chose the amenities icons gas, lodging, food, and emergency services to encourage visitors to stop and take advantage of our hospitality.

“The signing of the MOU and the placement gateway sign is an exciting step forward for our community in engaging with Mon Forest Towns,” said Taira Gainer-Landavere, Director of Marketing Elkins-Randolph County Tourism and Mon Forest Town representative for Elkins. “This is a partnership between the Forest Service, USDA Rural Development, WVU, and the gateway towns of the Monongahela National Forest. Being able to network as a region and having the different towns participate will give us the motivation to develop additional recreational opportunities.”

Elkins’ representative, Taira Gainer-Landavere, along with representatives from each community belong to the Mon Forest Towns board that meets quarterly along with representatives from the Forest Service, WVU and USDA Rural development to collaborate on recreation focused projects.

The Mon Forest Towns website will launch later this summer. Created by designers from West Virginia University, the website will feature an asset map featuring tourist amenities and recreation sites. In addition, as part of a Benedum grant awarded to the WVU Foundation, each town has $5,000 to devote to additional signs, kiosks, and brochures.

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