by Steve Ahmann | GTC Board Member
Only last year at Thanksgiving Day, with the receipt of Freeport McMoRan’s Community Involvement Fund grant, did the Greenlee County Tourism Council (GCTC) have reason to be jubilant. There are now only two months remaining to write a celebratory close out in the grant’s final report. If it is to be positive, GCTC needs YOUR involvement.
It only took a moment reading the grant request budget to understand the initial reason for celebration. The awarded $125,000 was to be utilized to fund the research required to begin the process of implementing the Town of Clifton’s voter approved general plan. Specifically, the GCTC pledged to devote their full attention and resources toward the development of the San Francisco River Corridor planning area.
The General Plan recommended establishment of integrated parks, trails, and open space to support Clifton’s healthy and active lifestyles, increasing the quality of life, and positioning the Town as a recreational and community-based eco-tourism destination. From its inception over a decade ago, the GCTC has focused its efforts on incubating and nurturing plans, projects, agencies and entities that are focused on healthy growth, revitalization, stimulation of economic activity, employment opportunities, enhanced sales tax generation, and support for improving the local quality of life.
Over the last ten months, hundreds of volunteer hours have produced site visits, scopes of work, and negotiated contracts with the teams of contractors qualified and available to see that the intent of the Clifton General Plan is followed.
Arriving at this juncture has not been easy in the post-pandemic world of rising costs and waning participation. Greenlee County’s Board of Supervisors fortunately provided a necessary boost by voting to award GCTC an additional $20,000 toward meeting some of the cost over-runs. The Clifton Town Council agreed to host meetings designed to encourage the support of ANY PERSON or GROUP OF PEOPLE wanting to be involved. Only a handful of people responded.
If you currently call Clifton home, and plan to remain living here into the foreseeable future, which of the three inevitable scenarios do you desire, and are willing to step-up and participate in attaining?
- Do nothing. At some future time, the mining of copper in Greenlee County will no longer be economically feasible. In the absence of jobs, infrastructure, maintenance, goods, and services, Clifton is destined to become nothing more than a memory and a ghost-town. At that point it will be too late to resurrect the community.
- Wait until outside investors with ample funding decide to “pick Clifton’s low-hanging fruit” and develop a resort utilizing the area’s natural beauty, natural resources and cheap, seasonal labor to make themselves more money. After all, water in the desert is more valuable than gold. Rivers and streams through scenic vistas are a very rare and sought after commodity. The call to “get back to nature” is a strong selling point to urban-tired tourists.
- Form a local administrative authority dedicated to protecting the small-town quality of life, local ecosystem, and scenic natural beauty, but diligently move forward implementing Clifton’s General Plan. Under local control, the end results can parallel the positive aspects on scenario 2). However, the revenue generated will remain local, providing a wide range of meaningful careers and jobs while protecting the physical and spiritual facets of the Greenlee County landscape that first brought us to the region. Stated bluntly, If you currently call Clifton home, plan to remain living here into the foreseeable future, and have a desire to see Clifton known as one of the best places in the southwest to enjoy safe, exciting, healthy, and affordable outdoor recreation activities join with your friends and neighbors to realize our full potential.
It is my hope that YOU will see the wisdom of scenario 3) and move outside your comfort zone to do the unthinkable – PARTICIPATE! Without the participation of just a few more individuals, things are not going to change and the future is not bright.
Those that are involved invite you to meet Saturday’s at PJ’s from 7:00 – 9:00 AM. If that time is unavailable for you to meet, but you want to PARTICIPATE, please respond to the newsletter or contact GCTC at visitgreenleecounty.com.