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FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Department of Economic Development and Outdoors New Mexico announced on Feb. 3 that Farmington will host the third annual New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in October.

The nonprofit Outdoors New Mexico partners with the department of economic development's outdoor recreation division to put the conference together each year.

The conference brings government and industry leaders as well as advocacy groups from around the state together to discuss ways to grow the outdoor recreation industry. Last year it drew about 300 people from more than 65 different communities to Silver City. 

The conference will be Oct. 1 and 2 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. Registration is available online at outdooreconomicsnm.com. The registration fee is $65.

"This conference has been a great place in its two-year history to learn about relevant topics related to outdoor recreation," said Jeff Steinborn, the executive director of Outdoor New Mexico, during a press conference on Feb. 3 at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

Topics this year include outdoor marketing, outdoor recreation business development, sustainability, diversity and outdoor equity. It will also be the first time the conference will feature an outdoor expo to showcase New Mexico’s companies and products.

Steinborn said Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett lobbied to get the conference to come to Farmington following previous conferences in Las Cruces and Silver City.

"As we were completing last year's conference in Silver City, before the conference was even over I had an email in my mailbox from your tenacious Mayor Nate Duckett saying 'we want to be the host of the third conference,'" Steinborn said.

He said Farmington had also lobbied to be the host of the second annual conference. 

Duckett said Farmington was often highlighted during the conference last year and he thought the city would an ideal host.

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The conference will include trips to various outdoors attractions in the Farmington area.

Duckett paused for a moment when asked which outdoor attraction he is most excited to show participants. He said Farmington has so many assets it is hard to choose just one. He highlighted the rivers, Lake Farmington and the Bisti Badlands as some of the tremendous assets in the Farmington area, and then added Lions Wilderness Park is an impressive Farmington amenity. He also highlighted the Aztec arches as an impressive outdoor attraction.

While Farmington is hosting the conference, Bloomfield, Aztec, San Juan County, San Juan College and Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau are partnering with the city in its efforts.

Bloomfield City Councilor Ken Hare presented Steinborn with a $10,000 check for Outdoor New Mexico to sponsor the conference. Hare said the conference is a chance to showcase San Juan County's assets.

"We do see it as an exceptional opportunity for Bloomfield to partner with the other entities in an incredible part of the state," he said.

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New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division Director Axie Navas said Farmington and the surrounding communities are outdoor recreation destinations. After the press conference, she said the three rivers that come together in Farmington are a great asset that provide both a world-class fishery and a floating destination.

She said Farmington also offers assets for off-roading and mountain biking as well as access to wilderness and cultural sites like Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Navas said her department has given the college a $50,000 grant to develop one of the first outdoor recreation incubators to help businesses get started.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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