Telluride, CO Alternative Futures Project, Phase I
The Telluride Foundation's Alternative Futures Project, Phase I, is the culmination of two years of work and public involvement, funded by the Telluride Foundation, to better inform the Telluride Region's long range grant making strategy. The principal objectives of this study were to understand and model regional scale economic, ecological and community interactions and to assist the Telluride Foundation and regional community leaders and governments in decision making that might affect the future of the region.
Twenty years ago, nobody imagined in Park City, Aspen or Vail, the magnitude, scale or speed of development and its resulting impacts. The Telluride Region is on the cusp of a similar stage of development and resulting impacts. Issues include not just residential and commercial building, but also future extensive oil and gas development, uranium mining and milling start-up, conversion of ranch and agricultural lands, water rights and usage, changing workforce demographics, to mention a few. Coupled with the fact that Telluride and Mountain Village will be effectively built out in the next decade, the protection and enhancement of the economy, ecology and community will require thoughtful, fact-based and far-sighted decisions. The future quality of life of the region will result from the regional-scale interaction of complex economic, ecological, community, land use, water and air quality, transportation, and workforce dynamics.
The Telluride Foundation contracted with the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (Harvard) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to conduct this Alternative Futures Study. The Study uses advanced global information systems (GIS) computer modeling to project the 20-30 year economic, ecological and community impacts of various near term decision scenarios.
To reach this objective, the research team developed a set of alternative future scenarios, based on current conditions and reasonable assumptions for the region, and assessed their impact on transportation, traffic, tourism, visual corridors, land use, affordable housing and other consequences. The results constitute a synthesis of the best available regional data and knowledge of existing land use, development and conservation options, and reasonable projections of their likely impacts across jurisdictional boundaries, including Ouray, San Miguel and west Montrose counties.
The Alternative Futures Project, Phase I, Final Report emphasized several points that would influence the importance of continuing regional efforts through an Alternative Futures Project, Phase II:
- The importance of regional thinking and planning – the study area towns of Telluride, Mountain Village, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, Norwood, Nucla and Naturita are extremely interdependent and each can not be governed or planned in a vacuum.
- The need for core services necessary to support a working class population will increase in Ridgway and Norwood and possibly decrease in Telluride as workers move to Norwood and Ridgway. The demand for services, such as child care, healthcare and educational programs, will likely increase in Norwood and Ridgway. Nonprofits may also move to these communities as the people they support move. As Telluride is likely to evolve into a more affluent community, the demand for arts and culture will continue and likely increase.
- The beautiful scenery surrounding Telluride attracts its tourist and second homeowner base. Protecting these open spaces and undeveloped vistas remains crucial to the tourism and real estate economy of Telluride. As such, our ability to protect historic landscapes and the gateway to Telluride (i.e. the drive between Ridgway and Telluride over Dallas Divide) will drive our future economy and tourism market.
- Regional transportation will be key to Telluride's ability to attract a workforce that will likely live in Norwood, Ridgway and Montrose. If a transportation system is not created, traffic gridlock will impact not only Telluride's ability to attract workers, but the desirability of Telluride to tourists and second homeowners.
- Ridgway, unlike Telluride, has more useable land area and therefore the ability to grow. As populations shift and Ridgway becomes more of a central community for both workers and second homeowners, it might be logical to think of Ridgway as the more central location for essential services – i.e. medical facilities, educational centers, etc.
- Although resource extraction in the west end of San Miguel and Montrose counties will not impact Telluride and Ridgway materially, the communities where resource extraction occurs, such as Nucla, Naturita, and Paradox, will be heavily impacted. The short term boom of resource extraction may eventually be overshadowed by health and environmental impacts.
Additional information on this case study:
Alternative Futures for the Telluride Region, Colorado full report (105.57 MB)
Issue: Scenario Planning Processes
Community Type: Amenity
Location: Telluride Region, CO
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