The Outdoor Recreation Coalition circulated questions to all of the candidates for office to understand their position, plans, and perspective on Outdoor Recreation in the Grand Valley. The Outdoor Recreation Coalition has chosen to not endorse a candidate, but rather to provide citizens of Grand Junction an opportunity to have a clearer understanding of the positions of the candidates. If you feel that outdoor recreation is an important part of the future of Grand Junction, please let this questionnaire help guide your votes.
There are four questions. (click on a question to see the candidates’ responses). We did not receive responses from Phil Pe’a or Dennis Simpson.
1. What do you see as the role of Outdoor Recreation in the future of Grand Junction’s economy? How will you be a leader in promoting the Outdoor Rec industry?
The Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley in my opinion should be members from the different private and public sectors of our community. These outdoor representatives need to be from the retail, wholesale and manufacturing companies. They should also have representatives from the Visitor Convention Center, District 51, CMU, GJEP, Chamber, Sentinel, municipalities and Mesa County. This coalition will be a powerful voice for Economic Development in our valley, showcasing all the amenities of Mesa County. As a council member I would take a leadership role just like I did in my previous terms on council. I would work with the Coalition to develop our Outreach Plan and direct staff and resources to implement it.
In my opinion, outdoor recreation will play a large part in Grand Junction’s economy. By promoting our access to first-class outdoor activities, we can add to our tourism economy.
As a councilmember, I will encourage and support Visit Grand Junction’s messaging and promotion of our outdoor recreation opportunities. As a part of developing our economy, I believe we should emphasize our growing outdoor recreation industries to similar businesses that are considering locating in Grand Junction and build a vibrant sector of our economy.
Council should consider incentives for such new businesses looking to relocate.
Because the Outdoor Recreation industry has consistently shown growth at an increasing rate, based on similar growth trajectories in other more developed economies, it is reasonable to presume that given time, Outdoor Recreation will become the primary industry of Grand Junction.
The nature of the industry is such that even the Great Depression of the 1930’s only slowed the rate of this exponential growth: in local economies nationwide and worldwide, it is defined by the persistence of its growing growth rate. This is because, apart from actual barriers to access (such as war, natural disaster or travel restrictions), where there exists an opportunity for outdoor recreation, it will be developed – and that development has the effect of increasing (rather than diminishing) the resources available for consumption. With these resources being able to be developed simultaneously for multiple use applications, the nature of supply in this industrial model matters less than demand. (Clawson and Knetsh, “Economics of Outdoor Recreation”).
Therefore, infrastructures required by the industry must function toward both protecting access to the resources to permit diversified simultaneous development, and also to facilitate the transportation of the public for consumption. The consensus of outdoor recreation economics is that this is best accomplished through a collaborative and co-operative process in which stakeholders and shareholders participate in creating and updating management and administration policies of those resources upon which the industry depends, and because the Industry is limited only by demand, to provide for those shared costs of boosterism and marketing to drive increased demand. This is the proper and legitimate role for government leadership in this industry, whether this government is organized by municipal authority, or self-organized by the stakeholders and shareholders into a development board.
If elected, I intend to facilitate this organization. In doing so, I look to the leadership of Enos Mills in Estes Park, Charlotte Hill in Florissant, and David Moffat in Colorado Springs – among many other men and women who pioneered the Outdoor Recreation Industry in their communities. It is my opinion that the potential of development for Outdoor Recreation on the West Slope far exceeds that of the East Slope: we have a greater diversity of resources, and also better weather by which to consume them. However, it is the persistent lesson of these pioneers of the East Slope industry that Grand Junction must work together regionally – with communities as far as Moab, Dillon, Cortez and Dinosaur to access the full potential of our prosperity.
Outdoor recreation is a crucial piece of our community’s strategy to reduce our historical reliance on a single industry by diversifying economic activity in and around our city. Outdoor recreation not only provides direct employment and economic development, but a thriving outdoor recreation industry also attracts professionals, entrepreneurs, and families to our area who come to adopt the attractive outdoor lifestyle our community offers, therefore strengthening other economic drivers and industries.
As a community leader, I will continue to promote sound and diverse economic development that focuses on sustainable and science-based policies, stewardship of tax dollars and natural resources, and that brings together various stakeholders to develop comprehensive and collaborative strategies for planning and growth management.
2. Mesa County is made up of 77% public lands. Please describe the importance of our public lands to the economy in Grand Junction and the Grand Valley. What role do these public lands play in the future of our community?
Our public lands are tied directly to our economy while Moab, Utah takes full advantage of this reality. We need to change the status of the Colorado National Monument to a National Park status. I believe millions of dollars of potential revenue lands at GJ Regional Airport and then drives on to Utah where they have National Parks. The Mclnnis Canyons National Conservation Area should also be renamed. In my mind it should be called something like Colorado Canyonlands National Conservation Area. Branding our public lands to reflect what they really are is key to developing a tourism mecca here in Western Colorado.
Public lands are the backbone of outdoor recreation and tourism. Access to public lands allows residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors and our incredible landscapes. Tourism provides an economic benefit to our community and an attraction for businesses and families seeking to relocate.
How and where people play determines the character of those individuals, and thus shapes the destiny of our City. Recreation, especially outdoor recreation, is vital to our public mental and physical health. And when individual success relies upon balancing work with play and recreation, especially those pursuits of self development through the arts and sciences, there are few industries as vital to the long term interests of our community than its recreational industries.
As our recreational industries develop, our enjoyment of our City naturally increases, as does our quality of life and happiness. This means we come to love our City more – and those we share it with. What we love we protect and serve.
Our public lands are crucial not only to our attractiveness as a community because of our proximity to recreational and green space, but also because they have a direct impact on human and community health. As we continue to plan for Grand Junction’s future and shape a local economy that recognizes the impact public lands have on livability, policies must be aimed at preserving these public lands, promoting responsible use, and inculcating a sense of stewardship among residents and tourists alike.
3. What are the three most important things we need right now to make Grand Junction and the Grand Valley a vibrant and healthy place for young families and growing businesses?
We need to attract businesses that want to be here and share the same values of outdoor rec as we do. They need to pay a living wage where young parents can raise their children knowing they won’t have to move to a metro area in order to survive. Having a strong Riverfront Trail Commission and a great relationship with Mesa Land Trust is important to a vibrant and healthy place for young families. Advocating for the BLM’s Main Office to relocate to the Grand Valley would be a priority.
Schools – education is a key component for children to grow
Public safety – we need to provide adequate resources for police and fire departments to do their jobs in the best way possible
Good jobs and a qualified workforce – higher paying jobs for skilled, trained workforce
In developing my 3 Point Plan for Public Health, I consulted with physicians and other experts in the field. It is urgently necessary to develop a Public Health Advisory Board to better prepare the Council to make policies to address our numerous health emergencies. I encourage you to follow the link and read it. One recommendation I heard repeatedly made was to improve opportunities for outdoor recreation – and to ensure that the air and other resources consumed in that recreation were sufficiently clean.
My 4 Point Plan for Jobs and Small Businesses and Economic Plan for the City (Gross Municipal Happiness) provide a similar starting point for addressing the needs of small and home businesses – not only in the Outdoor Recreation Industry, but across the spectrum of our economy. I have again provided the links below for you to read the full plans, but what is most important to take away from them is the urgent policy of harmlessness. The City must stop harming our small and home businesses if we expect them to thrive. We must also empower these business communities through boards and commissions.
As for encouraging young families, steps must be taken to stop excluding them from their self-government. We must embrace (frequently free) technological solutions to improve access to meetings and records, provide opportunities for public service which they will be able to participate in, provide sufficient emergency services, develop a functional public transportation system, provide for sufficient public recreational opportunities within our city limits, and simultaneously stop those policies which injure these young families. As a member of this demographic myself, I am uniquely suited to speak on their behalf: but it is insufficient for my voice to be heard. I have intended the empowerment of all my neighbors through a Democracy Initiative, and already demonstrated my resolution to succeed in achieving these goals.
- Grand Junction must promote, develop, and support community-wide strategies to create a sense of place and connectedness in our city and valley.
- We must continue to strengthen services in our community, such as our schools and early childcare options, public safety, public health and other essential elements of a safe and vibrant city.
- We must solicit input from young professionals, families, and business owners in and outside of our region about what they seek when making the decision to either stay in Grand Junction or relocate to Grand Junction and allow these younger generations to help guide strategic planning and vision-setting.
4. Reports show that the outdoor recreation economy is 4% of the GDP in the US. In Colorado alone, the outdoor recreation economy generates $62.5 billion annually and provides 511,000 jobs. What actions will you take to collaborate with the State of Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office?
Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation lndustry Office needs to know of all the things we have done and what we plan to do to expand our economic prowess. Projects like our South Downtown Plan, Las Colonias, a Kayak Park, 3 Sister Trail, Tour of the Moon, Off Road Bike Races, complete streets with bike lanes just to name a few. The coalition’s voice should be heard by the new Governor as well. He just appointed 2 Trustee’s to the CMU board. This tells me he is watching Mesa County and he may want to help us turn the” Corner”. He might also be interested in helping us rename the Monument to a National Park.
I will keep an open line of communication with Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and keep our community in view for the Office’s programs, refer inquiries about the industry to the office, lobby for grant funding to develop Grand Junction’s outdoor recreation industry, and cooperate with our local Outdoor Recreation Council to promote outdoor recreation industry and inform citizens about the industry’s importance.
My ability to collaborate with any office is limited: a Councilor merely sets policies for the Manager to administer. However, the soft power of my leadership will be exercised toward collaborative and co-operative efforts within our community, as described previously, and also through undertaking my own boosterism and encouragement. To the extent that the CORIO provides policy recommendations, I would likely always endorse them because of the importance of Outdoor Recreation to our local economy, and my trust in the economists and marketeers at the CORIO.
I will work with local liaisons and Outdoor Rec industry leaders in our community to identify opportunities for collaboration and strategize ways to promote and develop outdoor recreation in Grand Junction.