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Craig betting on Yampa River to help transition from coal economy

This section of the Yampa River in Craig is part of the Yampa River Corridor Project. The city of Craig is making the project part of a plan to diversify the region’s economy with a focus on outdoor recreation. (Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism) CRAIG — With the impending closure of coal mines and power plants in northwest Colorado, Craig officials and river enthusiasts are hoping a long-overlooked natural resource just south of town can help create economic resilience.

The city has applied for a $1.8 million grant from the federal Economic Development Agency for the Yampa River Corridor Project, which will refurbish boat ramps, add parking areas and a whitewater park, in an effort to develop the Yampa River as a source of outdoor recreation and local pride. The project is part of a multipronged approach to help rural Moffat County transition from an extraction-based economy to one that includes outdoor and river recreation as one of its main pillars.

“(River use) has definitely grown in the last couple of years,” said Jennifer Holloway, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce. “Awareness that the river could be part of our future has grown. It had just not been on our radar […]

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