Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnership Initiative
BACKGROUND - THE WHY
The San Luis Valley’s expansive landscapes and abundant recreation opportunities contribute significantly to quality of life and economic vitality. The San Luis Valley is often considered a hidden gem in the state, and residents often find themselves alone on the trail. However, our public lands are progressively seeing an uptick in visitation, impacting both natural resources and recreational experiences. Many of our trailheads and campgrounds are seeing higher use than ever before, and are becoming overrun and unequipped with adequate infrastructure to manage the high demand. Many areas throughout the state are seeing these impacts at a much greater magnitude, having to deal with the consequences of the sheer volume of visitors leading to overcrowding and increased conflicts. The San Luis Valley is in a somewhat unique position in that our visitation numbers are significantly lower than places closer to the front range, and we have the foresight to proactively plan for increased recreation and be able to learn from others across the state that have experienced just that.
In the summer of 2021, the SLV GO! Coalition was selected to be a part of the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnership Initiative to advance conservation and recreation planning for the San Luis Valley region. This statewide initiative is funded jointly by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to ensure that our state remains a world-class outdoor recreation destination while preserving our land, water, wildlife, and quality of life and providing equitable access and quality outdoor recreation experiences.
PARTNERS - THE WHO
From the coalition’s inception in 2013, we had a group of citizens, educators, and community leaders who recognized the tremendous opportunity to enhance recreational experiences, improve wellness, and connect the communities across the six-county region of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Today, the coalition is a partnership between land management agencies, land trusts, local government, nonprofits, economic development agencies, agricultural entities, outdoor recreation users, sportsmen, and conservationists.
THE INITIATIVE - THE WHAT
SLV GO!’s role in this initiative is to create a regional conservation and recreation plan that incorporates local needs and conservation and outdoor recreation priorities of the San Luis Valley. Our regional plan, along with the plans of partners across the state, will inform and shape the creation of a statewide conservation and recreation plan. SLV GO! is extremely proud to be a part of this initiative, and we are looking forward to working with residents of the San Luis Valley to ensure their voices are heard at the state level.
RESOURCES & DELIVERABLES
In 2014, the SLV GO! Coalition developed a Trails and Recreation Master Plan for the San Luis Valley in an effort to lay the foundation for improving the San Luis Valley’s outdoor recreation opportunities and for enhancing promotions of the region’s varied recreational resources over the course of the next ten years. With this master plan, the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors Coalition (SLV GO! Coalition) offers the Valley’s counties and communities a set of tools and strategies for enhancing the quality of life for residents through outdoor recreation while also enticing more tourism. This master plan is designed to serve as a road map that the SLVGO Coalition, its partners and SLV residents can use to build increased awareness of the region’s recreation resources and facilitate greater exploration and enjoyment of the SLV’s outdoors.
A decade later, the SLV GO! Coalition became a partner in the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnership Initiative, providing new focus and direction for the coalition to assess the state of our recreation landscape and natural resources. The SLV GO! Coalition has developed a multi-phased planning initiative that seeks to bring together diverse stakeholders, information, and innovative ideas to collaboratively address the San Luis Valley’s recreation and conservation needs and aspirations for today and the future, while also tackling obstacles to implementation.
A community assessment is part of this planning process, and one tool utilized was the San Luis Valley Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Survey. The community survey was conducted in 2022/2023 to identify resident and visitor satisfaction, priorities, and perceptions of outdoor recreation and natural resource management that will help inform objectives in a region-wide, San Luis Valley Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Plan.