PORTLAND — The Oregon Tourism Commission, which does business as Travel Oregon, awarded $913,000 to 34 projects across the state. More than $125,000 went to five projects in Eastern Oregon.

The grants are for “the development, enhancement and stewardship of key visitor experiences that are COVID-19 appropriate,” according to the press release from Travel Oregon, “will aid in economic recovery, enhance local livability and provide access to a diversity of explorers through the Destination Ready program.”

Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon, in the release stated the projects are crucial in ensuring visitors and Oregonians have access to safe and enjoyable experiences as the commission rebuilds Oregon’s tourism economy while navigating the pandemic.

“Communities across the state rely on tourism as an essential component of their economic fabric,” Davidson continued. “These communities need visitor-ready attractions and experiences that continue to prioritize public health measures and Travel Oregon is excited to support these local initiatives that will play a significant role in the state’s economic recovery.”

In Eastern Oregon, the following are the amounts, recipients and purpose of the awards:

• $21,711 to the Greater Hells Canyon Council to help with mapping and trail maintenance operations for The Blue Mountains Trail, a 556-mile thru-hiking experience through northeast Oregon.

• $20,000 to the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association for land stewardship and maintenance efforts to prepare Eastern Oregon’s most visited public lands for the coming season, including the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, The Owyhee Region, The Steens Mountain Wilderness and the Alvord Desert.

• $24,500 to the Eastern Oregon Visitors Association for updates to six Eastern Oregon Farm Trail brochures with distribution, and creation of a new on-the-ground kiosk.

• $25,000 to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to make infrastructure and accessibility improvements to establish Marr Pond as the only ADA accessible fishing facility in Wallowa County.

• $35,000 to the city of John Day to create a community “pit stop” with food truck stalls, improved parking and new public restrooms.

Originally announced as a $250,000 opportunity, Travel Oregon received more than $4 million in requests through 135 applications. In response to the high demand, the agency reviewed internal program dollars and reallocated resources to increase the award amount to $913,000, which allowed funding for 34 projects. The agency’s Destination Development team will manage projects, which range from direct investments to more collaborative projects where staff will work closely with awardees through implementation.

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