Moffat County Locals: Kleinschnitz from river kid to Moffat County advocate
Tom Kleinschnitz’s business card reads “Moffat County Advocate,” and he believes that his number one goal is to promote responsible tourism to his community and to make sure people who come here know how precious this area is.
Kleinschnitz has felt a deep connection to Moffat County and the Yampa River since he was a kid and he envisions how the community will pass down this area to future generations in hundreds or thousands of years.
“50 years ago my life changed, I found the Yampa River, and that was it, that’s all there was to it,” Kleinschnitz said in the “Coal at Sunset: The Center of the Universe” episode featuring his experience working with the river and the role it will play the in the future of the Yampa Valley.
A “healthy river system,” as Kleinschnitz describes it, is a vital piece to maintaining a healthy community. And since he was a young teenager, he has been learning about how to navigate the river and everything that surrounds it.
Kleinschnitz said that when he was a teenager, he worked all summer to save enough money to go on a rafting trip. He departed from Arvada, Colo. for his first rafting trip and took a school bus with Adventure Bound River Expeditions toward Moffat County.
That first introduction to the Yampa Valley and Craig, was like nothing Klenschnitz had ever seen growing up in Denver. He said he felt a connection with the Yampa River from the first time he stuck his arm in the water to “see what he was getting himself into.”
“That connection at that moment, I tell you, I remember it to this day,” Kleinschnitz said in the episode. “It’s kind of nice when you know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, it’s dedicated to that creek and figuring out what river running is all about.”
Following the first introduction, Kleinschnitz started working for the river guide company at the age of fourteen as a dishwasher. His early role with the river company was to clean up camp and help make the trips run smooth.
Kleinschnitz went on to eventually purchase Adventure Bound River Expedition, launching his 30 year career in river guiding out of Grand Junction. During his years in Grand Junction, Kleinschnitz saw how the Grand Junction River Park was transformed.
The area that started as a junkyard and an eyesore, and the community worked together to clean it up. Kleinschnitz is excited for what the future will hold for Craig and the Yampa River.
“All of the infrastructure on the [Yampa] River is so exciting,” Kleinschnitz said. “I see it as momentum that is going to move Craig forward.”
In January it will be six years since Kleinschnitz started working for Moffat County as the director of Visit Moffat County. The role started as a temporary position through Flint Personnel that eventually morphed into a full time role as Kleinschnitz was looking for a way to transition to Craig for the next stage of his career.
Kleinschnitz said his role at Visit Moffat County, while it does serve the community, does most of its outreach to other communities and states where tourists to Moffat County are coming from.
Through data and analytics, Kleinschnitz can get a picture of what kind of visitors are coming to the area and how they are getting here. Kleinschnitz helps update and circulate brochures and maps that visitors can request to scope out the area.
As a newer City Council Member, Kleinschnitz has also stepped into a public role to help the City of Craig and its residents navigate major topics like housing, water rights, and economic development that may also help support the community’s future.
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