American West Discovers How to Make Money at the Outdoors: Enjoy It

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For the beyond 100 years, Colorado’s Grand Valley rode the wave of commodity prices—from uranium to grease shale to natural gasoline. Now, the place is staking its survival on another herbal resource: the great exterior.

Flanked by way of punk-rock buttes and the most massive mesa within the world, the Grand Valley is capitalizing on its herbal belongings to strengthen its once-flagging economic system. Hundreds of miles of bike trails cut throughout the high wilderness, vineyards line the banks of the Colorado River, and a white-water rafting park is underneath improvement close to downtown Grand Junction, the valley’s largest town. More than 1 million travelers circulate the valley every yr, many from booming Denver and unemployment is at the lowest in more than a decade. The area now opponents Moab, Utah, as a most advantageous destination for mountain biking.

“Outdoor recreation should exchange the face of rural America,” stated Sarah Shrader, a neighborhood commercial enterprise owner and founding father of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of the Grand Valley. “In 4 years this region has made a whole turnaround.”

The valley’s funding in the endeavor is a hedge against the volatility of the strength and mineral business. A rush to mine gold, silver, uranium, and radium in the Interior West during the last centuries gave manner to oil and gas drilling, as rugged terrain awash in minerals fueled economic interest. Extraction created heaps of jobs—but also subjected Colorado and different western states to the unpredictability of booms and busts.
It’s hard to overstate how true the boom instances are. But when the bust comes, it takes a decade to get better,” said Robin Brown, head of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Similar shifts from extraction to pastime are occurring everywhere in the Interior West, as communities once depending on mineral manufacturing are looking for to diversify. Energy cities from Colorado to Montana are putting public lands to new makes use of—and benefiting from an endeavor growth that brought $412 billion to the national GDP in 2016, up 15 percent from four years in advance.

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