Wild horses take to their hooves at Sand Wash Basin in central Moffat County. The region is one of Moffat County's cultural heritage tourism sites that Cindy Looper, Moffat County Tourism Association board member, said should include more visitor-friendly amenities.

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Wild horses take to their hooves at Sand Wash Basin in central Moffat County. The region is one of Moffat County's cultural heritage tourism sites that Cindy Looper, Moffat County Tourism Association board member, said should include more visitor-friendly amenities.

Cultural Heritage Tourism group looks to apply for grant

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A local group is looking for another chance to receive a grant to fund cultural heritage tourism sites in Northwest Colorado.

Members of the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism group met with Laura Libby, Heritage Tourism Program manager, on Tuesday morning at Craig City Hall to receive information about a new round of grants the tourism program is offering this year.

The Cultural Heritage Tourism group includes representatives from Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Jackson counties.

Nancy Kramer volunteered to write the proposed grant, which could be used to develop marketing and strategic planning.

Kramer serves as project coordinator for Northwest Colorado Products, an initiative of the Community Agriculture Alliance. The Alliance, a Steamboat Springs-based agency, focuses on preserving agricultural heritage in the Yampa Valley.

"I believe wholeheartedly in the program," Kramer said.

A grant from the Tourism Program, which operates under the Colorado Tourism Office, could fund various projects and services geared specifically toward visitors seeking to explore the state's cultural heritage.

The state's southwest and southeast regions, in addition to the San Luis Valley and Park County, already have received grants from the Tourism Program to fund projects and services related to cultural heritage tourism.

Each region has focused on heritage attractions unique to the area. Colorado's southwestern region, which includes Delta and La Plata counties, has developed program related to its Native American cultural history, while ranches in Park County have provided access to fishing areas, according to the Heritage Tourism Program.

Northwest Colorado already has its own cultural heritage attractions, said Marsha Daughenbaugh, Community Agriculture Alliance executive director. Those attractions including Sheep Wagon Days and Moffat County ranches that offer horseback rides for tourists, she said.

The group intends to apply for a $50,000 grant, Kramer said, adding that the Heritage Tourism group plans to find between $15,000 and $20,000 in matching funds.

The grant, if awarded, would provide the majority of the estimated $65,000 cost of the pilot program's first stage.

The group is operating under a tight deadline. Its grant application is due August 4, and the Cultural Heritage Tourism group has "a number of loose ends" to wrap up before the grant request is ready to send, Kramer said.

The group has applied for multiple grants in the past, she said, including those from the Department of Local Affairs.

"One of the most important pieces that we learned out of that process was in fact that administrative piece, that oversight piece, was not our strength," she said. "We didn't have that structure, or that framework that really would have catapulted us, I think."

Fortunately, she said, the grant available through the Heritage Tourism Program provides some funding for operations, which could help meet that need.

"Part of the grant will be requesting both administrative and consulting" services, she said.

Some potential cultural heritage attractions need funding to make them more visitor-friendly, said Cindy Looper, Moffat County Tourism Association board member.

She used Sand Wash Basin as an example.

"You go to see the wild horses, and there's no bathrooms," Looper said. "There's no signs."

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.

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