5:14 PM EDT, May 1, 2013
BOTETOURT CO., Va.
A lazy day on the river is better to many than a day at work.
And, it's this serentity Botetourt County has decided to capitalize on. .
"The Upper James River Water Trail started in Botetourt in about 2008. We officially opened up the trail in 2010," explains Richard Peters, Director of Parks, Recreation & Tourism for Botetourt County.
Nearly 3-years later that commitment is paying off.
The Gala public boat access is one of two sites Botetourt has opened in the last year and one of 8 in the county.
Explains Peters, "It provides access to the river for our local residents, but also for tourism and visitors that would come into Botetourt to fish and float."
Welcome to Eco-Tourism.
A growing movement across the country that has places looking at their existing, natural resources to draw in crowds.
Says Peters, "We're trying to expand that and grow that in hopes that visitors come to Botetourt and spend some money and boost our local economy, especially in the Northern section of the county where there's less opportunity for commercial development."
It's an idea that paying off for the county and its businesses.
"We've really seen some great results. We've had a lot of additional boaters. We have a local canoe livery that operates in Buchanan. Their business has grown 25% each of the last two-years," Peters explains.
And, at a cost of about 24-thousand dollars to prepare, it makes dollars and "cents" to the county.
"It's a fairly small capital investment, but it'll have huge benefits for us and huge impacts," Peters explains.
Ten-thousand dollars of Gala expense was covered by a grant. The remainer was picked up local businesses.
As for the Gala site, a kiosk will be soon added and Peters hopes to eventually have a concrete boat ramp constructed there.