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 September 1, 1999

Tourism board promotes county’s natural beauty

NEDERLAND — Instead of promoting hotels and restaurants, the Tourism and Recreation Program of Boulder County has a different philosophy: Preserve western Boulder County’s natural beauty and tourists will come.

“The concept is to invigorate the businesses within the incorporated areas, but keep the other areas scenic,” says Scott Bruntjen, president of TARP and owner of four west Boulder County hotels.

TARP was established approximately 14 years ago “to create a positive economic impact by tourism,” says Shelly Helmerick, secretary of TARP and executive director of the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The six-person core group consists of mostly volunteers, including homeowners along the Peak to Peak Highway, representatives from Parks and Open Space and Eldora Ski Area. The group meets formally every quarter and more often when writing grant proposals.

TARP reports regularly to the Boulder County commissioners and all of its funding comes from the commissioners. This year it gave TARP $15,000.

Although the amount may seem small, Helmerick says most federal and state grants only require a small percentage of cash or in-kind services to generate more funds. TARP uses the money for a variety of projects including revegetating road cuts, consultant fees, informational signs about the history of the area, history booklets or to purchase construction materials.

In the last few years, TARP’s projects have mostly focused on the Peak to Peak Highway, the mountain highway that runs from Rocky Mountain National Park to Black Hawk and Central City. To preserve the scenic beauty, TARP is painting guardrails on the highway to minimize sun glare and removing extra signs.

Helmerick says TARP was instrumental in getting the Peak to Peak Highway designated as a scenic byway under the National Scenic Byway Program and recently completed a 30-page Corridor Management Plan for the highway. Corridors include the road and an area on each side, which can be as wide as two miles, depending on its use. For instance, a hiking trail that begins at a road may be encompassed into the plan because the hikers use the scenic byway and have an impact on it.

Other recent TARP projects include assisting the Nederland Mining Museum with writing grants for the Colorado Historical Society and designing and building a scenic overlook and bathroom for Allenspark. TARP also has worked with Front Range visitor centers, trying to get residents to visit other parts of the Front Range.

The organization admits that attracting large amounts of people would defeat their purpose and what they are looking for are fewer tourists that hang around longer.

“It’s a real delicate balance between keeping the ski resorts and the restaurants and the small shop owners economically healthy but not overrunning the area,” says Helmerick.

Helmerick says that nationally most byways are printing brochures to attract as many cars as possible. “The sad part of that approach is you quickly lose the scenic byway,” she says. “If you look at the way the Front Range is growing today, there are very few places that you can go and actually enjoy the scenic beauty. If we allow it to deteriorate then our kids aren’t going to see it.”

Helmerick says the Peak to Peak Highway marketing is education-based, such as writing history booklets about the highway. The booklets contain pictures from the early 1900s.

“It’s really great to look at this history book and look at what’s there today,” says Helmerick. “It’s the same view. It’s the same as the pictures.”

NEDERLAND — Instead of promoting hotels and restaurants, the Tourism and Recreation Program of Boulder County has a different philosophy: Preserve western Boulder County’s natural beauty and tourists will come.

“The concept is to invigorate the businesses within the incorporated areas, but keep the other areas scenic,” says Scott Bruntjen, president of TARP and owner of four west Boulder County hotels.

TARP was established approximately 14 years ago “to create a positive economic impact by tourism,” says Shelly Helmerick, secretary of TARP and executive director of the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.…

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