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September 20, 2016
Governor announces grant for JSU Little River Canyon Center expansion study

A $52,500 grant announced by Gov. Robert Bentley could lead to increased tourism and educational opportunities in northeast Alabama. Funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used for a feasibility study relating to the possible expansion of the Little River Canyon Center and activities.

The center is an education facility and conference area that is located on the outskirts of Little River Canyon, a 23-mile-long river gorge atop Lookout Mountain.

The center was built and is operated by Jacksonville State University while the canyon is managed by the National Park Service. The study will determine if an expanded center and added activities have the potential to bring in more visitors for longer durations.

“The canyon center and the educational programs it offers enhances the splendor of Little River Canyon,” Bentley said. “I am pleased to have a role in this project that will help reveal the area’s potential as an outdoor education and recreation location.”

JSU opened the 23,000-square-foot center in 2008 from which it holds field schools and conducts nature programs relating to northeast Alabama and Little River Canyon. The facility also serves as a visitor’s center, has an exhibit area and gift shop and houses NPS offices. A stage and amphitheater have recently been added.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 people visit the canyon annually providing an economic impact of $16 million to the area Other nearby attractions include DeSoto State Park, Weiss Lake and Cherokee Rock Village all of which are in DeKalb and Cherokee counties.

The grant is being administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

“Tourism and recreation are important sectors of Alabama’s economy,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “I commend JSU for recognizing Little River Canyon as something special and being willing to invest in the area with so many educational and recreational opportunities.”

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.

ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management. Bentley notified JSU President Dr. John Beehler that the grant had been approved.


Contact Jim Plott or Mike Presley

For more information, visit:  http://www.adeca.alabama.gov/