City of Monte Vista a semifinalist for EPA grant

Provide planning team to help grow local outdoor recreation economy

MONTE VISTA — The City of Monte Vista recently was interviewed as a semifinalist for a grant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called Recreation Economy for Rural Communities. There were 115 proposals submitted and Monte Vista was one of 20 invited to a Zoom meeting interview.

The grant was submitted by Mick Daniel and his team from San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) The grant doesn't come with dollars attached to it, but rather, a planning team that will help communities bring together residents and stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy.

Patrick Ortiz, Operations Director, SLV GO!, said, "We are excited to see our application make it this far in the process! The outdoor recreation economy has endless potential in Monte Vista due to its natural beauty, expansive public lands, and proximity to major landmarks, like Great Sand Dunes National Park and the vast San Juan Mountain Range."

The planning assistance process will take place over four to six months, with a focal point being a facilitated community workshop. This workshop could be held in person, as a series of virtual work sessions, or a combination of both, depending on travel limitations due to the COVID pandemic. At the workshop, participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize the locally set goals.

The grant, Ortiz added, would provide an opportunity for an inclusive community-driven process and ideally help answer questions like — How can Monte Vista better connect to its public lands and open space? How can Monte Vista attract new businesses in the outdoor industry? How can current businesses and local entrepreneurs, be supported while maintaining the integrity of the community and boosting the economy?

"Our strengths are that we are aligned in already being conservationally minded, by being an agricultural-based community and working to promote a culture of stewardship in protecting the pristine character of our public lands and waters," Ortiz said.

City Manager Gigi Dennis estimated they may know who will receive the grant in about a month.

"If we receive this grant, it provides a wonderful opportunity for the city to work with our constituency to create a vision we can work toward and set new priorities," Dennis said.

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