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Focusing on Moffat County

MCTA director leaves regional post, focuses on county

Collin Smith

— The idea is to focus entirely on Moffat County, and that’s a good thing, Shelly Flannery said.

Flannery stepped down Monday as the regional coordinator of Cultural and Heritage Tourism, a position that had her splitting time among Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

As regional coordinator, she worked with tourism organizations around the area to help each group proceed in similarly successful directions, Flannery said.

She remains executive director for Moffat County Tourism Association, which works to develop all tourism in Moffat County.

“There are so many upcoming opportunities to develop tourism in Moffat County, I felt I needed to focus all my time and resources for that,” she said. “Moffat County is where my heart and my focus lie.”

The regional coordinator position was created after the three counties lost a competitive bid in January 2006 for a state grant to host a heritage tourism pilot program. The local application was deemed incomplete, and so representatives from the three counties decided there should be a regional director to coordinate such projects and then hired Flannery.

Different tourism organizations from around the region plan to meet at the beginning of September in Rangely to discuss whether to appoint another regional coordinator.

“It is important for us to stay involved and in contact with the state program to be competitive next year,” Flannery said. “Right now, it’s important for each county to concentrate on their own assets. The stronger we are as counties, the stronger we’ll be as a region. We know that as a regional destination we’re much stronger, and we will continue to promote each other.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray agreed.

“I think it’s a good move for Shelly and the county, though the county needs to be aware of the region, as well,” Gray said. “Right now (Flannery is) working on projects to diversify the types of tourism we have in the area.”

As MCTA executive director, Flannery said she has plans to develop the county countryside.

She plans to work with landowners in the area to develop agricultural easements, where owners set aside a specific acreage to not be developed.

“It’s a conservation easement,” Flannery said. “There are a lot of opportunities in a place like Moffat County with open space and land.”

Flannery is exploring options such as using the land to host art and photography camps, allowing students to study different ecosystems and establishing areas to exhibit agriculture heritage.

The Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument is also a focus. Flannery believes now is the best time to start developing.

“The dinosaur quarry on the Vernal side is closed, so we sit in a unique position to promote the Colorado side now,” Flannery said. “The Colorado side has always fallen short, because people want to see the bones, but we have the beauty.”

The fossil quarry will be closed for the next year and a half, Flannery said. She hopes for the portion of Dinosaur in Colorado to be a key destination.

Also stepping down Monday was Cindy Looper. She had been the steering advisor for Craig Heritage Steering Committee but stepped down to be on the Craig Daily Press editorial board.

Nicky Boulger, office manager and curator for the Wyman Museum, took Looper’s former position.

“It’s a great and wonderful opportunity for Moffat County and the Wyman Museum to work together to help tourism in this neck of the woods,” Boulger said. “We hope to work on how the communities here can work with each other, and help tourists here locally.”


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