State awards heritage tourism grant

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Nancy Cramer had two words when she learned the Community Agriculture Alliance was awarded a $33,000 grant from the state for cultural heritage tourism.

"Totally excited," she said of her group's award.

After four years of several organizations applying to the Colorado Tourism Office and local efforts losing enthusiasm, Northwest Colorado has the seed money to launch a heritage tourism program, Cramer said.

Heritage tourism is based on attractions that show history and culture from times gone by, such as the agricultural lifestyle and Native American ways of life.

The group was awarded two-thirds of its $50,000 request, but Cramer said she and her colleagues were "thrilled" to be supported so close to 100 percent.

The Agriculture Alliance has two priorities for the money: strategic planning and marketing.

With planning, Cramer said the money would be used to develop tourism priorities and a regional brand campaign.

One idea is to set up "trails," which would be maps of specific attractions that show visitors where to find similar sites in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Jackson counties.

"If you're looking for museums, you can have a museum trail," Cramer said. "If you want to follow the Ute Indians, the history of the Ute Indians, there's that trail."

Branding is the beginning of marketing, she said. An interactive Web site would follow, and money would be used to buy and install visitor-ready signs and other amenities throughout the area, Cramer said.

It probably would take another grant to complete everything on the priority list, she added, but she is hopeful considering the community's support for the project.

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