VALLEY — As a result of the West Fork Fire Complex, communities in the upper Rio Grande Basin, have suffered tragic economic loss of business, some are reporting initial numbers as high as 40 percent.
While the actual numbers are being compiled on a daily basis, the overall final loss of income to a short 12 week summer season, that keeps businesses open, especially in South Fork and Creede, throughout the year, won’t be finalized till late in the year.
Because of the concern over the loss of guests who were part of the evacuation and those who heard the devastating news and cancelled plans to visit the area, the Rio Grande County Tourism Board stepped up to increase current marketing endeavors and blaze new trails in making sure the world realizes that “The River of Life Still Flows in Rio Grande Country.”
Efforts included partnering with neighboring communities to push accurate and positive information through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, local event commercials airing on Fox 21 News, SOCO The CW CO Springs/ Pueblo, and Salida/Buena Vista public television. Cooperative efforts with the Colorado Tourism Office included E-Blasts, press releases, and Instagram photo postings.
In addition to brochure distribution points throughout Colorado, northern New Mexico and Texas, local efforts have also be made to provide information about available businesses and recreation opportunities.
T-shirts & bumper stickers have also been distributed promoting how Rio Grande Country is “Stronger than the Fire”.
While the fires impact is felt now and will most likely continue into the coming year, businesses and people of these communities are resilient and strong, friendly and happy to open their arms to guests; those looking to enjoy cool weather and relax to those looking for a bit of adventure. With fall quickly closing in, leaf lookers will find a myriad of colors blanketing the surrounding mountains, awaiting the fall of winter snow, and the opening of Wolf Creek Ski area.
T-Shirts & Bumper Stickers are available at Chamber of Commerce offices in Monte Vista, Del Norte & South Fork, stickers can also be picked up at the Del Norte Museum, and the South Fork Visitors Center.