Ricky Barton Master Outdoor Recreation Planner

Ricky Barton

Passionate about the outdoors
Ricky Barton is a native of Tazewell County, Virginia, and an avid outdoorsman. He is passionate about the outdoors, especially where adventure and the sustainability of the recreation industry intersect. Among his many skills is his ability to master the planning and development of recreation amenities – hiking, biking and equestrian trails – and acquiring private property for outdoor activities.

Ricky sees the natural landscape and outdoor assets as an untapped resource waiting to be discovered and the impetus for sustainable small-town economic development.

Helping others gain access
Barton owns Outdoor Adventure Centers (OAC), which rents bicycles at Burke’s Garden, the state’s highest valley with scenic views and the largest rural historic district. From the town of Tazewell, explore the Clinch River in an OAC rented kayak. Additionally, OAC offers guided hikes and cave excursions at locations throughout Southwest Virginia. His partner, Scarlett Crowder, operates OAC Nature, a nature education and therapy program designed for all ages desiring an experience with Mother Nature.

Developing outdoor infrastructure
Since 2016, Ricky has worked tirelessly to expand outdoor recreation in Central Appalachia. He specializes in asset identification, acquisition and community development. As a result, he has expanded recreational opportunities through a growing number of public trails for hiking, mountain biking paths and bouldering in Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. 

Trails of note that he has developed or expanded are:

  • East River Mountain and Chimney Rock, a 4.6 mile out and back trail north of Tazewell in the Jefferson National Forest. A steep and rocky incline leads to the top where its namesake Chimney Rock is situated.
  • The Clinch River – researched and secured river access points and boat launches on the Clinch River that flows 135 miles from Tazewell to Tennessee.

His efforts alone have netted SWVA millions of dollars of donations in public lands for outdoor recreation.

Highlights of his achievement:

  • Mapped Southwest Virginia rivers for communities desiring to bring visitors and enticing people to relocate.
  • Facilitated in securing scenic river designations and generating awareness of these bodies of water on a national level
  • Encouraged the development of blueways and outdoor recreation activities as a means to draw visitors to remote communities in need of economic stimulus.

Servant leadership
Currently, he serves on the Clinch River Valley Initiative, the Cumberland Plateau Recreation Planning Board, and many other local trail alliances and planning groups throughout the region.

Barton is a visionary who believes the outdoors is a powerful economic development tool that has yet to be fully realized.

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