Executive summary

Imprinted upon us is a sense that we live in a special place that actually becomes part of our being. It is the essence of the legendary and fictitious “Yampa Valley Curse.”

As a community, we share the responsibility to shape our future. Together, through shared values and differences of opinion, we create a vision for a cohesive community.

The heart and soul of our community is the reason people come here, put down roots and return. It is the driving force behind our community character. By describing what we value, we learn what constitutes heart and soul – the unique features, resources, special places and core values that are interconnected and, if lost, would fundamentally diminish the quality of community and sense of well-being.

Vision 2030 is an innovative approach to decision making. This values driven method identifies a community’s core values so incremental decisions can ultimately ensure the things that really matter are enhanced and retained for future generations.

Our community has said that heart and soul is a combination of friendly people, a clean and beautiful environment, good schools, manageable local governments, a diverse population, and an unmatched lifestyle of cultural, recreational and economic opportunities.

The past decade has revealed some widely shared concerns. We’re worried about having enough affordable housing. We wonder if growth will threaten our open space, Western ranching and farming heritage, traffic and our friendly, supportive community character.

This Vision 2030 report carries on the work of the 1994 Vision 2020 document, using a similar collaborative process. Through Vision 2020, we learned the components of what is important to us – those values that constitute our heart and soul and are most important to nurture into the future. Vision 2030 expands on this premise to affirm our shared values and recommend actions to preserve them. It relies on citizen surveys and a series of community gatherings that brought together people from every part of the greater Yampa Valley neighborhood.

This report details the responses from each Routt County community and demonstrates that while there are some differences of opinion from one area of the county to another, there is surprising agreement about what is important and what needs to be done to protect the things we cherish about our home. Defining a community vision is only the first step; a vision must also incorporate a plan for action if we hope to achieve our goals.

All of the data in this report represent the community’s thoughts about the desired outcomes and recommended actions that might constitute such a plan. The Vision 2030 committee listened carefully, and this is what the citizens of Routt County said, listed in alphabetical order:

Affordable Housing Survey respondents named affordable housing among the three most threatened needs of the county. We are convinced that a balanced economy, as well as a diverse, inclusive populace, requires accessible and attractive housing that will shelter the full-time residents who are the backbone of our community.

Agriculture & Open Space We place great value on our Western ranching and farming heritage, with its emphasis on abundant clean water, protection of wildlife habitat and corridors, a sustainable, diverse economy, and the distinctive sense of place that goes with it.

Arts & Culture We have a long tradition of appreciating accessible, affordable and high quality arts and cultural opportunities for residents of all ages, and we encourage their continued success.

Economy We rely on a healthy regional economy that must be diverse, sustainable and productive while at the same time enhancing our community’s character and providing realistic opportunities for sustainable employment.

Education We place great importance on our schools, from pre-school through college, and we strive for a high-level, community-supported, innovative 21st century continuum of lifelong learning opportunities.

Government Our local governments have reputations for being accessible, responsive and accountable. We insist on their being fiscally responsible and service-oriented, and we support their efforts to create the infrastructure and services that will foster a strong economy and a safe, comfortable quality of life.

Heritage Nothing defines our regional identity as well as our Western history and heritage. We choose a lifestyle that promotes the protection and continued use of our historic built environments, the living reminders of our rich past.

Planning We understand that there will be growth, and that growth can be good, but we insist on paced and placed growth: growth that can be engineered and absorbed in such a way as to preserve and enhance the community’s character.

Recreation Recreation is a celebrated aspect of life in our corner of Colorado. We treasure a recreational lifestyle that embraces all populations, ages, abilities and socio-economic backgrounds – one that goes hand-in-hand with our abiding love for the land.

Seniors Our seniors – our institutional memory and guides – deserve a well-planned variety of housing options, accessible transportation, and a wide range of ways for staying connected to the communities they helped create.

Sustainability It is not enough for us to enjoy life here. We must find new avenues for keeping our heart and soul alive for future generations. That means healthy, clean air and water; respectful land-use practices; “green” building and living; and a lifestyle that leaves our neighborhood better than we found it.

Transportation We are a vehicle-centered society, our roads, streets and parking lots are becoming increasingly crowded. We want our leaders to plan for a multi- modal, efficient, environmentally sound transportation system that will be sufficiently affordable and appealing that we might not need to use our cars quite so much.

Youth It truly takes a village to raise a child and we want our villages to provide programs and facilities that are caring and supportive, healthy and safe for our youth. That means encouraging affordable and accessible child care for working families, and providing a family-friendly environment in which our young people can thrive.

What follows are the details of what the community said about where we should be going and how we might get there. This Vision 2030 report is intended to be more than just a summary of the community’s opinions. It is meant to form the basis for a checklist for our progress in carrying out the plan to achieve the vision. In the end, we will all be the judges of how well we succeed.