Though Dr. James Maples, associate professor of sociology at EKU, has conducted many studies centered on recreational rock climbing, he has never actually hit the rocks himself. Imagine his surprise, then, when he earned a 2019 Climber Advocate Award from Access Fund.
“I’m truly thrilled to be honored by the Access Fund,” said Maples. “Looking back on previous winners, it’s uncommon for a non-climber to receive this award. Recognition like this gives me renewed energy to keep conducting research in our state and beyond, and doing what I can to support economic growth right here in EKU’s service region.”
The honor was bestowed on Maples for his economic impact studies with Dr. Mike Bradley, professor in the recreation and parks administration department at EKU, on recreational climbing in regions across the country, including Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, West Virginia’s New River Gorge, Utah’s Manti-La Sal National Forest and others. His rural Appalachian roots spawned both a love for the outdoors and an interest in rural economies in transition. Maples and Bradley have collaborated on more than 40 economic impact studies centering around outdoor recreation.
“Our hope is to support desirable, intentional, and long-lasting economic growth right here in Kentucky,” Maples said. “Economic impact studies are an important part of policy making. These studies help indicate how creating changes in expenditures can help improve economies. This is particularly valuable in rural areas such as our EKU Service Region.”
To read more about Maples’s research, check out “Climbing the Gap” from the Fall 2018 issue of EKU Magazine.