Efforts that have been underway since 2009 to create sustainable recreation strategies and projects in the Verde River Valley gained significant momentum following a trip to Colorado's Grand Valley earlier this year.
A diverse contingent of stakeholders working with the Verde Front Leadership Council traveled to Colorado and experienced the results of the Grand Valley's efforts to restore and protect 35 miles of the Colorado River that runs through their communities.
Through inter-agency planning and community collaboration, leaders in the Grand Valley have successfully developed a series of premier riverfront recreational assets for their citizens and visitors, enhanced river conservation, improved quality of life and experienced robust economic development across the region.
Following the Colorado trip, Verde Valley representatives and others met at Yavapai College in a workshop on July 29 to identify outdoor recreation assets in the Verde River Valley and begin a strategic planning process for their efforts.
The strong relationships among the agencies in the Verde River Valley have been evident throughout the process and are leading to an effective and enthusiastic partnership.
A concrete example of the group's success was the recent award of a grant from the Walton Family Foundation for the development of a regional geotourism program through the National Geographic Society. Geotourism focuses on sustainable tourism, acknowledging that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations, and encouraging the use of tourism revenue to promote conservation. In addition to the $150,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the $300,000 project is supported through $100,000 in funding through National Geographic partnerships with federal and state agencies, and $50,000 in funding from the local partners on the project, including the Verde Valley's six Destination Marketing Organizations in Sedona, Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and the Yavapai-Apache Nation who work together as the Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council.
Next steps for the Verde Front Leadership Council are to develop a more formal collaboration to facilitate sustainable recreation efforts in the region; develop a comprehensive map of existing and potential sustainable recreation facilities in the region; expand community engagement in the prioritization of restoration and recreation projects in the Verde River Valley; and develop a resource management and master plan/vision for the region.
If you'd like more information about sustainable recreation efforts in the Verde Valley, contact Chip Norton at (928) 300-9013 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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