- Friday, July 25, 2008, 10 a.m.
Community leaders are reviving a push for a cultural heritage tourism program that faltered two years ago.
Routt, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties are working together to apply for a state pilot program. The program would help pay to prepare culturally historical sites for tourists, said Noreen Moore, who has been involved with the program since 2004.
"We've identified a whole bunch of sites in all the counties, and what we need is to get them visitor ready," she said.
Those interested in participating are invited to a meeting today in Craig.
The three-county coalition plans to angle for funding from the Colorado Tourism Office. The office provides some matching cash for cultural heritage tourism in the state. The application is due next month, Moore said.
"It's really about the heritage and the stories, the stories of what has made this place what it is," she said of cultural heritage tourism.
Nancy Kramer is taking the lead on the project, Moore said. Kramer could not be reached for comment Monday.
The effort was initiated by a partnership of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, Yampa Valley Partners, Historic Routt County, the Community Agriculture Alliance and the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council. "Technical difficulties" with the grant application derailed the attempt for funding in 2006, Moore said.
"The reputation we built two years ago in terms of what we have done with this program was so stout that it stayed," she said. The Tourism Office is enthusiastic about the three counties' plans, Moore said.
One tricky part of cultural heritage tourism is attracting people to sites without making the owners or residents of those sites uncomfortable, she said. Visitors look into the sites, online perhaps, and decide which ones they would like to see. Owners of the historical sites can opt out of the program, Moore said.
This area is an attractive one for people interested in history, she said.
"The West still holds the stories of freedom and individuation," Moore said. "We have a story to tell, and how do we do that without making people feel like they've been invaded? : People get on a Web site and see where are there trails to follow the story, and that's what they're looking for."
Today's meeting is aimed at gauging interest in the program and getting people talking again. A representative from the state will attend to explain what funding is available. Moore said she was looking forward to reviving the effort. The August deadline is rapidly approaching, she noted.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," she said. "We'll definitely be in the running, but we have to pull it together."