THE city of Monte Vista with its partner, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!), was among 25 communities nationwide selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Recreation Economy for Rural Communities” planning assistance. The EPA released its 2022 list Wednesday, with the support intended to help rural communities like Monte Vista grow their outdoor recreation economy and revitalize their Main Streets.

“The city is thrilled to receive the EPA grant,” said City Manager Gigi Dennis. “This will allow for community involvement and input on creating a plan that will help diversify our economy and re-energize the assets of Monte Vista and our surrounding area of natural resources.”

Already home to the annual Crane Festival and with new trails recently developed, the EPA assistance will help Monte Vista continue to grow its outdoor recreation offerings.

“Outdoor recreation activities can bring new investment to local economies, encourage people to revitalize existing downtowns and conserve natural resources, and lead to improved quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Vicki Arroyo, EPA associate administrator for policy.This assistance will help rural areas explore ways that outdoor recreation can strengthen their communities, create jobs, and boost access to the outdoors for everyone.”

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, which supported the formation of the program, lauded the Biden Administration for its commitment to the 25 communities that will receive technical assistance under the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program.

“ORR plans to continue working with the Biden Administration and Congress to build the program so it can serve all communities looking for support to establish and grow a thriving and sustainable outdoor recreation economy. Notably, in the two rounds of the program nearly 300 communities have applied for assistance, indicating widespread demand for outdoor recreation economic development.”

ORR’s Rural Economic Development Toolkit has also helped communities, like the ones awarded today, develop and grow authentic outdoor recreation plans and execute on those proposals.

“The Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program is exactly what rural America needs to harness the high demand for outdoor recreation and develop sustainable economies that benefit locals and visitors alike,” said Jessica Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The $689 billion outdoor recreation economy benefits greatly from continued government investment in programs like these that work on the ground and positively impact people, place and planet.”

Monte Vista and SLV GO! have been working together to create new trails in the town. In April the partnership dedicated the new Ray and Collette Skeff Nature Trail.

The EPA planning assistance will help the partnership continue to look for ways to grow Monte Vista’s outdoor recreation and “boost equitable access to outdoor recreation for residents, increase tourism opportunities that tie into local assets like the annual Sandhill Crane Festival, and strengthen Main Street revitalization and small business development efforts in downtown Monte Vista.”

PHOTO: Monte Vista Wetlands Trail (map)