Farmington looks at outdoor recreation assets it could market to the world

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Public Lands Solutions Managing Director Ashley Korenblat presents information about outdoor recreation Thursday at Farmington Civic Center.

FARMINGTON — A nonprofit organization that has partnered with the City of Farmington asked members of the public where trails are located and what they think are the best places in the county for various outdoor recreation activities.

The Moab-based nonprofit, Public Lands Solution, works to help communities develop outdoor assets. Representatives from Public Lands Solution met with members of the community this week at the Farmington Civic Center.

“One of the things that we are working on is bucket list recreation assets,” said Public Lands Solution Managing Director Ashley Korenblat. “Right now Farmington’s got all of this great stuff and you guys know about it but not many other people know about it.”

Korenblat said the region needs to develop a marketing plan. This plan will look at what to call the bucket list asset and how to tell the world about it. She gave Moab and Orangeville, Utah, as well as Sturgis, South Dakota, as examples.

In Moab, the Whole Enchilada mountain bike trail stretching from the La Sal Mountains to the Colorado River attracts crowds from around the world. Orangeville, a town with fewer than 2,000 residents, has the world-famous bouldering site Joe’s Canyon. Sturgis has the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.

Community members participate in a public input meeting about outdoor recreation Thursday at the Farmington Civic Center.

Residents highlighted areas like Animas and Berg Park, the Glade Run Recreation Area, the quality waters of the San Juan River and the arches surrounding Aztec. Bruce Black, who owns the bed and breakfast Kokopelli Caves, highlighted proximity to ancestral Puebloan sites.

One concern raised by members of the public was shooting. Several equestrians and mountain bikers said they had almost been shot while using trails. They said these incidents have even occurred in places where gun use is banned. Some trail users asked if a shooting range could be developed to reduce conflict.

Region looks at outdoor recreation to help diversify the economy

The emphasis on outdoor recreation comes as Farmington and San Juan County try to help diversify the economy.

Korenblat said outdoor recreation is a growing economic sector.

One way the local area wants to use outdoor recreation to diversify the economy is by attracting business, including manufacturers of outdoor recreation gear.

“There are more and more businesses looking to be in places where there is access to public lands,” she said.

Korenblat said part of a business’ brand is the address. She used Osprey, a Cortez, Colorado-based company that makes backpacks, tents and other outdoor gear.

“Part of what gives Osprey authenticity is they’re out here,” she said. “If Osprey was in Chicago or San Francisco — not as cool.”

State considers creating outdoor recreation department

San Juan County is not the only place in New Mexico hoping to cash in on its diverse outdoor amenities.

“We’ve got a lot of people really interested in this,” Korenblat said.

She highlighted support from Mayor Nate Duckett, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and senators.

The meetings this week came at the same time that a bill was introduced at the state Legislature to create an outdoor recreation department for the state. The city of Farmington launched its own outdoor recreation department, the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative, last year.

Korenblat said when states have created outdoor recreation departments it creates more funding for projects. She said communities like Farmington that have projects ready to begin are more likely to receive funding.

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