Developing a Strategic Plan for Adventure Tourism in Knott County.
First Step: Community Meetings
In 2006, WMTH Corporation was hired by the Knott County Fiscal Court. It was the vision of Judge Randy Thompson to develop a countywide Adventure Tourism Park System across Knott County. A team headed up by Debby Spencer with WMTH Corporation along with Economic Research Associates out of Washington DC and both Summit Engineering and Barge Wagoner Sumner & Cannon out of Tennessee were instrumental in developing the first strategic plan. From that plan, the ATV Safety Training Center was built, numerous trails (both ATV and Horseback Riding) were established and Knott County was declared the elk capital of the east.
Recently the Knott County Fiscal Court applied for and received a flexi-grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to expand the plan further and once again hired WMTH Corporation to assist.
As part of the planning process, Ms. Spencer met with the Knott County Tourism Commission and suggested that public meetings be held in different parts of the county to get public input.
During the Summer of 2008, the Knott County Tourist Commission set up community meetings throughout Knott County. The goal was to:
Determine what the communities considered were the top priorities in adventure tourism in order for the county to reach its full potential.
And what communities felt were some of the opportunities to pursue in their particular areas.
The first meeting was with the Knott County Tourist Commission to get their perspective and ideas then meetings were set up at the following locations and the public encouraged to attend through personal invitations from tourist commission members, the local newspaper and the radio station.
The community site locations included: (click on location for more information)
Recommendation Number 1: The one recommendation brought out in every meeting was lodging.
All seemed to agree that a hotel or multiple hotels at Chestnut Mountain Development near the Sportsplex was the most logical location.
Note: Two hotels have expressed possible interest.
Other lodging recommendations included:
Developing B&B’s, cabins and campgrounds throughout the county. Potential sites and locations mentioned:
A horse campground and possibly cabins near Litt Carr
Potential B&B and/or small motel near Holly Hill Recommend a partnership between ALC and Hindman Settlement School be worked out to insure occupancy during particular times of the year.
Carl Perkins home might be a possible site for a B&B/small museum due to its historical significance.
Cabins in and around Carr Creek Lake are needed
Potential for campgrounds in the Beaver Dam (Consol area).
Convert Beckham Combs School classrooms into lodging unit
Both the grounds at Beckham Combs School and Caney School might be used for campgrounds since both already have water, sewer and electricity and could accommodate up to 30 campers.
Potential lodging at Pioneer Village in existing cabins.
There were a number of potential sites and interested parties in developing campgrounds and cabins throughout the county in particularly the Jones Fork area and a site near Raven if the county agrees to help market them.
And county / grant funding has been set aside to develop an RV Park near the ATV Safety Training Center once land has been purchased.
Potential clientel include families, business trips, corporate , hunters, bikers, horseback riders, wildlife enthusiasts and boaters.
All seemed to agree that whatever was built, it should be built well. No one wanted to see shacks or used worn out trailers. Knott Countians desired to become a “premier quality location to vacation”.
Recommendation Number 2:
All groups tended to agree that a restaurant offering fine dining and atmosphere was very much needed in the county. Again, people tended to see the Chestnut Mountain area near the Sportsplex as the most logical location for such a facility.
Recommendation Number 3 which was consistently agreed upon in each of the meetings:
The need for a shuttle service which could offer elk & wildlife viewing opportunities and transport visitors from the Sportsplex and lake area to downtown Hindman to enjoy the museums, Artisan Center and working artists on Main Street and possibly include lunch at the Artisan Café, Mall area or Alice Lloyd College.
This could be an opportunity for an entrepreneurial business.
The parking issue at Hindman was also discussed at length at a number of the meetings. Some felt the Shuttle Service was a possible solution. Others felt a parking structure was needed to accommodate increased traffic as tourism increases in the area.
Recommendation Number 4:
Better signage is needed throughout the county so people traveling through can find attractions and know that the area has a lot to offer. ACTION: Bernice Amburgey and Debby Spencer are working on developing a signage plan to submit to Kentucky Department of Transportation.
Recommendation Number 5:
Need to capitalize on the fact that Knott County is the “Elk Capital of the East” by using elk in everything that is done including signage, publications, billboards, special elk-themed events, t-shirts, logos etc. ACTION: An elk view station has been established on Elk View Drive near Sutton Memorial Park off Hwy 1098. Others need to be developed and both directional and interpretive signs added.
ACTION: Bernice Amburgey and Debby Spencer are working on developing a signage plan to submit to Kentucky Department of Transportation.
Recommendation Number 5:
Potential site locations include Thornsberry Branch Area
Recommendation Number 6:
Establish more trails as part of the vision of establishing a “county-wide adventure tourism park system.
Need day use or overnight camping if possible
Develop horse campgrounds at Litt Carr park area and near Sutton Memorial Park
There are 6 miles of horse trails identified and mapped near the Carr Creek area
Single Branch and other horse trails already mapped - contact Bernice
Ky River Properties/ Private landowners. Contact Ott Mullins
ATV trails need to be GPSed and mapped in the Red Fox and Fire Trail areas and trailheads established.
Potential area for both ATV and horseback riding trails to be established is in the Jones Fork area connecting to the Fire Trail through Holly Bush then extended all the way into Virginia.
Another potential trail system is in the Big Branch area connecting with both Perry and Letcher counties. Other areas include: Knob area, ICG property, Raven area and Hemp Patch
ACTION: Landowners along these trails need to be identified and contacted.
Potential for developing mountain bike trails throughout the county
Already established bike routes across Knott County with safe havens established at Carrie Post Office and other locations along the route.
Motorcycle routes have been mapped but need to be promoted.
Need to find out more about Budweiser and Combs Custom Cycles
There is also a connection with NASCAR and Petty racing. Find out more.
Establish wildlife viewing trails and areas and add interpretive signs
Carbon Glow near Letcher is an excellent place to view wildlife
Pigman Bottoms near Pinetop one can view free-roaming horses
Bird watching areas include
Birgy Creek excellent site for birdwatching but needs interpretive signs
Recommendation Number 7:
Hunting Opportunities include but are not limited to: elk, deer, grouse, quail, coon and fox
Entrepreneurial opportunities for hunting guide service and hunting kennels for those living in larger cities to have a place to keep their dogs.
Need to work with local land owners to identify and map where people may hunt.
There were many other recommendations including, but not limited to:
Need for greater marketing of Carr Creek Lake including both fishing and boating opportunities
Potential for shooting range, clay shooting and archery shoot
Also explore expanded use of Carr Creek Fish & Game area
Potential shooting range in Carrie Community area
Possibility of incorporating Cordia Community Center and High School into tourism plan.
Camp Nathanael is an interested partner in tourism
Better use and clean up of Troublesome Creek as a tourism asset
New welcome cente4r proposed at the intersection of Hwy 160 & 80 through an agreement with Yoder’s and the Knott County Tourist Commission
County funding available for amphitheater Need to locate on public land.
New Knott County/Letcher County airport is “in the works”.
Need to develop more eco-friendly tourism opportunities.
Need to encourage county-wide clean up
Work with both PRIDE and CEDARinc.org
Develop a craft trail
Establish a Knott County Land Use Committee and have chapters within the county to address special needs for those areas.