Monte Vista, a small town in the San Luis Valley, is receiving federal aid to expand its outdoor recreation economy. It is one of 25 communities across the country selected for the program from a pool of more than 100 applicants.
Support comes from the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program, which is a collaboration between the EPA, USDA, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC).
The program provides technical planning assistance to small towns, but does not provide grants to beneficiaries. It aims to help rural communities use their nearby access to nature to boost their local economy.
“The economic impact of outdoor recreation near our national forests and meadows is critical to supporting the health and prosperity of rural America,” said Randy Moore, chief of the US Forest Service, in a recent statement.
Mick Daniel, who runs the nonprofit organization San Luis Valley Great Outdoors, said building the city’s outdoor economy is key to the region’s growth.
“In the San Luis Valley at this point, I’ve heard of every economic development program that could happen,” he said, “and what if it was as simple as a trail in a community?”