The Crestone Eagle, June 2005:

Sonoran Institute’s presentation on growth in ‘gateway’ communities draws a packed house; Institute accepts the challenge to work with Crestone/Baca

by Tamar Ellentuck, POA Land Use Administrator

The Crestone/Baca community turned out in force for a standing room only presentation at the Desert Sage restaurant by Sonoran Institute Executive Director, Luther Propst, and Ben Alexander, its Associate Director of Socio-Economic Programs. A broad cross-section of the community was present, including representatives from all three federal land agencies, two Saguache County Commissioners, and various representatives from the POA, Water and Sanitation District, and School District. Following an hour long presentation about the cultural, social and economic pressures faced by ‘gateway’ communities, with case-study examples, Luther and Ben fielded over thirty questions—all of which demonstrated keen interest in and knowledge about the many complex issues involved in planning for growth.

The Sonoran Institute, founded in 1990, is a non-profit planning group which works with public and private landowners in the Rocky Mountain West to help preserve important rural landscapes and help communities plan for vibrant, sustainable, economic futures. They work with communities through collaborative, grass roots approaches to identifying shared values and developing and implementing concrete action plans to address the pressures on rapidly changing rural landscapes. In addition, they help communities fund this effort, or find funding, through direct and third party grants.

The Institute is not ‘for hire’ but chooses who it will work with, based on evaluating the potential for setting and achieving far reaching goals and on the level of community support for the effort. Propst and Alexander were impressed by the amount and quality of community participation that we’ve already mobilized, as well as the scope of problems we face, and have agreed to work with us. For them our area presents some interesting new twists on the common (but real and difficult) problems communities like ours are facing up and down the Rocky Mountain west.

Some things that make our area unique in their view are: the number of Federal land management agencies involved here, the unique hydrology of the Valley, the fact that the Town, the Baca and the County are all already actively involved in master planning (or related efforts), the emphasis we place on quiet use and community, and our strong spiritual bent. The issues we face are complex, as are the broad range of views and interests we will collectively and individually bring to the table.