Community discussion to focus on ecotourism in Southwest Virginia


Tyler Hughes
New Economy Program Manager, Appalachian Voices

The New Economy Network of Southwest Virginia and Appalachian Voices are hosting a community discussion on ecotourism in Pennington Gap on Tuesday, August 27. The meeting is free and refreshments will be served.

The community discussion will feature a panel of local residents who have been directly involved with ecotourism in Southwest Virginia. They will cover a variety of topics including the economic and environmental impact of this growing sector which leverages a region’s natural assets — mountains, rivers and lakes, farmlands, wildlife habitat — for local economic benefit while protecting those natural resources.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 27, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Pennington Gap Community Center, 41670 W. Morgan Avenue, Pennington
WHO: The speakers include:

  • Neil and Beth Walker of Stone Mountain Adventuress, an outdoor recreation outfitting business in Norton
  • Michelle Davalos, Clinch District Ranger of the U.S. Forest Service
  • Wally Smith, Assistant Professor of Biology at UVA-Wise and ecotourism proponent.
  • Travis Anderson, Appalachia Town Councilman

The New Economy Network is a regional citizens’ group that focuses on sustainable economic development and transition in Southwest Virginia. Appalachian Voices is a nonprofit organization with an office in Norton that works on community and economic development and environmental protection in the region.

This is the first of several community discussions they will host in coming months on a variety of topics related to sustainable economic and community development across Southwest Virginia. The information gathered at these sessions will be used to further residents’ engagement as the region continues to shift to a more diversified economy.

The panel discussion will be followed by an audience led question and answer session. Refreshments will be served and the meeting is open to everyone.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Tyler Hughes at Appalachian Voices at 276-207-8686 or email at