2022 Stewards of Opportunity Conference Track:

Balancing Conservation and the Outdoor Economy

About the Balancing Conservation and the Outdoor Economy Track

Western North Carolina has the largest concentration of outdoor companies in the East. Ask our CEOs and industry leaders why they chose WNC to start and grow their business, and you will hear that public lands are a key factor to their success, providing a testing ground for their products and the quality of life and culture their employees desire. To build a stronger outdoor economy, we must protect and promote our most valuable assets, while also ensuring that our communities and their economies see direct benefits from conservation. This track will highlight best practices, case studies, and research that demonstrate how we can balance conservation with economic development.

Topics for This Track include:

Speakers for this Track Include:

  • Sam Evans, Senior Lawyer & Leader, Southern Environmental Law Center National Forest and Parks Program
  • Ta Enos, Founder & CEO, PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship
  • James Melonas, Forest Supervisor, NC National Forests
  • Jay Leutze, Senior Board Advisor, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
  • Reid Wilson, NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Michelle Wells, MPA, CPRP, Executive Director, North Carolina Parks Recreation and Parks Association
  • Mark Shelley, Eastern Field Program Director, National Forest Foundation
  • Lisa Jennings, Natural Resource Specialist; Grandfather Ranger District; Program Coordinator, Grandfather Restoration Project, U.S. Forest Service
  • Erin McCombs, Southeast Conservation Director, American Rivers
  • Jennifer Bennet, Project Manager, Duke Energy
  • Nate Hulabka, NC Pandemic Recovery Office
  • Bill Holman, Conservation Fund
  • Brent Anslinger, Outdoor Recreation Program Manager, Five Rivers MetroParks
  • Greg Williams, Executive Director, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship
  • Kim Williams, Senior Recreation and Environmental Planner, Equinox Environmental

Early Bird Ticket Pricing ends Feb. 28th!

Conference Schedule

To simplify the schedule to your preferred program track, please see the “Filter By Track” color-coded list on the right-hand side, and check the box of your preferred track. If all boxes are checked, you can uncheck them to narrow down your view.


The past year has been life changing, not just for us as individuals, but for our communities, economies, and the outdoor industry as a whole. The need to grow and strengthen our respective outdoor economies is more relevant than ever. 

Since its inception, Outdoor Economy Conference has provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with, learn from, and be inspired by the leaders and doers who are working to grow the outdoor industry and craft an economy that’s intimately tied to the well-being of their places and communities.

This year’s conference is no exception. Our team is passionate about their work and has been busy crafting an amazing program centered around place driven community and economic development.

Did we mention that the conference is in the legendary outdoor playground that is Western North Carolina? You’ll be just 5 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 5 minutes from some of the country’s most epic mountain biking, and within walking distance of fantastic fly fishing.

Maybe you’re more of a luxe digs sort of person – well, we’ve got that too. The Outdoor Economy Conference will be one of the first events at the swanky, newly-constructed, Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center. And the room rates are crazy good. Oh, and it’s also during those magical first weeks of spring, when the trillium and the trout are popping. So what are you waiting for? Register now! 

Register Now And...

Save $100

Score Swag

Show us some Love

4th Annual Conference Tracks: "Stewards of Opportunity"




The Natural World

Register Now

venue and rooming info

harrah's cherokee conference center

777 Casino Dr. Cherokee, NC 28719

Lodging info