This unprecedented collaboration between NM MainStreet and the Outdoor Recreation Division engaged municipal and county elected officials and staff, MainStreet organizations, local nonprofits, and local business owners from five New Mexico counties in a mapping and project prioritization exercise. This pilot study engaged municipal and county elected officials and staff, MainStreet organizations, local nonprofits, and local business owners from 5 New Mexico counties (Lincoln, McKinley, Colfax, San Juan and Sierra) in the mapping of existing outdoor recreation assets and proposed outdoor recreation projects. The long term goal of this effort is to create an update-able tool to support targeted outdoor recreation projects, programs, and initiatives that will improve access between outdoor recreation and MainStreet communities, bringing “right-sized” economic activity to our downtowns.
The project methodology employed both qualitative and quantitative methods to map outdoor recreation assets, amenities, and potential projects and gather information on perceptions and definitions of outdoor recreation and its connection to local economic development. As opposed to simply mapping park and trail facilities, the project team expanded the definition of “outdoor recreation asset” based on conversations with representatives from each of the five counties. This approach revealed the diversity of outdoor recreation assets and amenities, projects and programs, approaches to economic and community development, and the unique challenges within each community.
NMMS and NMORD are currently evaluating options to determine focus areas for future work on the atlas, both in scope and location. Based on information learned about potential projects, NMMS is currently working to target MainStreet technical assistance to support priority projects, and NMORD is working with communities to apply for project funding through the Trails + and Land and Water Conservation grant opportunities. Next steps will include training for MainStreet communities in how to map their own outdoor recreation assets and proposed projects as part of a statewide GIS database, and development of an application process for counties interested in participating in the Outdoor Recreation Atlas development process.