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Trails lead to tourism

Posted: Tuesday, Aug 13th, 2013

San Luis Valley Great Outdoors is looking for community input on its new master plan in initiative and help inventorying the Valley’s many trails like Rito Alto, pictured above.


Courier staff writer

VALLEY — A new Valley project is leaving no trail unexplored.

This summer, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLVGO) is kicking off its Trails and Master Recreation Plan initiative, and is looking for community input to create a “prefect inventory” of the Valley’s many, many trails and access points.

Working in conjunction with the former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and the Valley’s direction to pilot its efforts, the plan will include the recreational needs of all communities and coordinate with ongoing trail plans to boost the system’s visibility and identify its future potential. It will provide quick trail information for the mountain biker, the coordinates for a researcher looking for an animal’s path and it will also furnish emergency responders with information that is now, in some cases, unknown.

“The trails, in some ways, don’t always define all of their own uses,” said San Luis Valley Council of the Governments (SLVCG) Executive Director and SLVGO leader Mike Wisdom in an interview last Friday. “Just to know where the trails are and what access is, we have one more planning tool for the entire Valley that we didn’t have before.”

The plan, he said, will bring together preexisting government agency and county maps and plans, and public input to make for a complete and accessible Valley trail guide. All trail users are encouraged to bring their thoughts to the table either at one of the several upcoming public meetings or through other means like email. SLVGO also has an online survey available.

“It’s almost a civics project to get people to join together in a way to plan for their own future, to plan for recreation instead of waiting for someone else to say what is available to you,” Wisdom said.

Great Outdoors Colorado is funding most of the $109,000 plan, which the SLVGC is heading up with direct assistance from Alamosa and Rio Grande County and support from several other entities. The lottery funded program is providing $75,000, SLVGO $5,000 and other partners are pitching in the last $29,000, believing the trail data set will lend to sound development, tourism and the local’s value of everyday life today and tomorrow.

For example, knowing the exact location of historical trails and access points could lend to the creation of heritage motorbike tours or the resurrection of old rail lines. The inventory could also enable opportunities to pinpoint backcountry aviation access points and draw distinctive boundaries between private and public lands.

“It is fascinating how many opportunities there are,” Wisdom said.

“It will be a huge economic generator,” added Rio Grande County Commissioner Karla Shriver during Friday’s interview. “With this ad hoc group we are operating under, we can watch for connectivity.”

Upcoming SLVGO meetings are: Aug 14, Del Norte, 4-6:30 p.m. (County Annex Building, 925 6th Street; Aug 20, Saguache, 5:30-8 p.m. (County Building, 303 3rd Street); and Aug 22, Creede, 5:30-7 p.m. (City Hall, 2223 N Main Street).

Visit www.slvgo.com for more information.

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