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KSJD Local Newscast - May 21, 2024

How to turn outdoor recreation into more money for Montezuma County. That was the focus of a presentation Monday at the county commissioners’ workshop. Gabe Preston of RPI Consulting of Durango reported on an Outdoor Recreation Use and Economic Impact Study RPI had conducted for the county. Preston said the consultants had interviewed key people, held two public meetings, and surveyed 400 visitors they intercepted at local outdoor-recreation and heritage sites in 2023. The study found that 56 percent of visitors come from outside the area and visitors spend about $78 million annually in Montezuma County. However, one area of concern is retail spending. Preston said visitors spend an average of just $15 apiece on retail goods in the downtown areas of local municipalities, vs. the statewide average of $63. He suggested business incubators are needed. Preston also suggested a marketing campaign, additional parking areas, and more signage to bring people into parts of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument less popular than Sand Canyon. But he said many locals surveyed said they don’t want outdoor recreation to ruin the places they care for. He said they told him, “Let’s be careful and thoughtful about what we do.”

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.