Last week, I attended a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary for the Colorado Scenic Byways. As the representative of the San Juan Skyway, I was presented with a plaque that acknowledged the importance of the Skyway to Southwest Colorado and the state.
The San Juan Skyway has an additional certification as a National All-American Road. In 2012, Travel and Leisure magazine named the San Juan Skyway one of "America's Best Spring Drives for its million-dollar views."
The Colorado Byways program is a state partnership that offers travelers and residents the opportunity to recreate and learn about the heritage of Colorado. It also provides economic benefits to communities in the byways system. According to the proclamation signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, "the Colorado Byways' vision is to guide travelers to experience and be inspired by treasured places that comprise Colorado's Scenic and Historic Byways."
There are 25 byways designated by the state, giving us more national designations than any other state. Over the course of 20 years, Colorado has received $18 million in National Scenic Byways Program grants because the byways system is recognized as a key industry that advances tourism. Four other scenic byways celebrating their 25 years: the Alpine Loop BLM Back Country Byway (outside Silverton), the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic and Historic Byway (linking Victor and Cripple Creek), Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway (established in 1918 just outside Denver), Scenic Highway of Legends (between Walsenburg and Trinidad).
Mancos is at the trailhead for the San Juan Skyway. It is a valuable resource for our community. Because it is such a valuable resource to us, I advocated on several occasions for our intersection at U.S. 160 and Colorado 184. If we are on a scenic byway, we ought to be scenic, and wire fencing is not helpful to that cause. The Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center will continue to make known that improving the appearance of the highway corridor is important to creating a welcoming environment for residents and visitors. It's curb appeal. Let's make it happen.
Marianne Griffin is the executive director of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.