The Durango Parks & Recreation Department says that every dollar invested in amenities generates more than $2 in economic benefit to the community; next public meeting on downtown's redesign is on Feb.16, and Fort Lewis College has joined forces with the University of Colorado to create a four-year undergraduate nursing degree. This story is sponsored by Pop's Truck & RV and Serious Texas BBQ
Durango Parks and Recreation investments generate twice the economic benefit to the community. Downtown's Next Step Program will unveil four conceptual designs to allow for outdoor dining. And wood from the San Juan National Forest is warming homes on the Navajo Reservation. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q and Pop's Truck and RV Center in Aztec. I'm Hannah Robertson. A recent economic impact study shows that Durango Parks and Recreation programs and assets contribute an estimated 34 million dollars to the local economy annually. The study, prepared by RPI Consulting, says that the city of Durango spends about 14.5 million dollars annually on operations and capital investments. That investment contributes more than twice that amount in economic impact, including visitor spending, jobs, and largest tax revenues. The report noted that the highest non-monetary benefits are the hundreds of thousands of instances of residents using and personally benefiting from Parks and Recreation amenities every year. The study documented more than 500,000 visits to the Durango Community Recreation Center, Chapman Hill, and the ice rink in 2018 and 19. Lake Nighthorse visits more than doubled, from 47,000 visits in 2018 to 107,000 visits in 2021. The study estimated that 160,000 residents used trails in and around the city in 2021. Park managed trees removed 21,000 pounds of pollutants every year. And the city has preserved more than 3,700 acres of open space, river green way and park land since 1994. To see the entire study, visit Durangogov.org. The city of Durango will discuss four conceptual designs for the Downtown Business District at a virtual public forum scheduled from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16th. The forum is part of downtown's Next Step Program to reimagine Downtown Durango's public spaces to include street side patios, wider sidewalks, street trees, and other landscaping, bicycle facilities, vehicle lanes, parking, and crosswalks. A questionnaire will be posted online about the alternatives from February 18th to March 4th. The city will then use public comments from the questionnaire and forum to develop a preferred alternative design. The city reconfigured Main Avenue from four lanes to three in March 2020 to accommodate temporary patios along the parking lanes during the pandemic. The patios proved to be so popular, they were allowed again last year. Now the city is proposing four alternatives, including a status quo option, an option to keep the center lane with expanded sidewalks and permanent bump outs along the street, an option that would create a 10 foot bistro zone along the street, with parking reduced from 20 to 10 spaces, or an option to create an eight foot bistro zone with a two way bicycle lane on one side of Main. Copies of the conceptual designs may be viewed ahead of the forum at durangogov.org/downtownmain. Residents of the Chinle Chapter House on the Navajo Nation will stay a little warmer this winter while the San Juan National Forest grows a little healthier. The Dolores Ranger District has partnered with the Chinle Chapter House, the National Forest Foundation, and Weston Backcountry to provide Navajo residents with a sustainable source of firewood from forest thinning projects. The San Juan Wood for Life program will deliver six log truck loads of wood equal to about 84 cords of wood this month to the Chinle Chapter House, where it will be processed into firewood and delivered to elderly and other vulnerable populations. The wood comes from vegetation management projects in Lake Canyon and Lone Pine on the Dolores Ranger District. The thinning operations increase forest resiliency to disturbances from bark beetle infestations and wildfire. Markets for the kind of small diameter, low value wood that's removed are scarce. The National Forest Foundation established the Wood for Life program in 2018. Since its inception, the program has delivered more than 7,000 cords of wood to tribal governments and nonprofits that process the wood and distribute it to community members throughout the Southwest. To learn more, visit nationalforest.org. Fort Lewis College and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus will partner to create a four year undergraduate degree in nursing. In a news release, Fort Lewis said the program will combine hands on, culturally sensitive, patient centered health care with the latest trends in medicine, like telehealth. The Durango based program will fuse Fort Lewis College's Liberal Arts core with the nursing curriculum at CU Anschutz. The course will be aligned to rural and indigenous health care perspectives. The Karen and Jerry Zink Family Foundation of Durango will support the program with a $1 million challenge match grant. And Steve Short, former Chairman of the FLC Board of Trustees, and his wife Jane, will contribute $30,000 to a nursing scholarship fund. The first cohort of nursing students is expected to enroll in fall 2023. To learn more, visit fortlewis.edu. Thanks for watching this edition of "The Local News Roundup". I'm Hannah Robertson.