The Grand Valley Outdoor Recreation Coalition Embarks on New Chapter

Conner Hall; Director of State OREC Office addressing attendees at GVORC Kickoff Party held on Tuesday, March 26th at Trail Life Brewing & The Gear Junction.

In 2015, a dedicated group of outdoor industry professionals united with a shared passion to highlight the substantial economic contribution of the outdoor recreation industry to Mesa County, a region rich in open spaces and outdoor recreation areas. Sarah Shrader, founder of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition and board president, looks back fondly on the early days of the ORC.

“Almost ten years ago, the ORC began as a group of individuals and businesses in the outdoor industry that wanted to see our community provide more access to outdoor recreation opportunities for our residents and become an outdoor-centric community,” stated Shrader. “In just a short decade, our community has reinvented itself into one of the most coveted places to live, work, and play in the Rocky Mountain West.”

The Coalition’s claim regarding the substantial impact received further validation through a comprehensive county-wide Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact Study, commissioned by the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) and the ZOMA Foundation. Led by Dr. Nathan Perry of Colorado Mesa University, this pioneering study unveiled Mesa County’s significant economic contribution, surpassing statewide figures. The report revealed a higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 4.8% in the county compared to the statewide figure of 3.1% at the time and that outdoor recreation tourists had a greater economic impact on the county than traditional tourists. Additionally, the study found that 11% of jobs in Mesa County were directly linked to the outdoor recreation industry.

More recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis unveiled economic data reinforcing the significant influence of Outdoor Recreation nationwide, marking the industry’s arrival in the trillion-dollar stratosphere. In Colorado specifically, the analysis revealed that outdoor recreation generated $13.9 billion in 2022, a remarkable 19% increase from the previous year. This figure surpassed several prominent industries, including mining, utilities, farming and ranching, and chemical product manufacturing. According to the data, the outdoor recreation sector also accounted for approximately 130,000 jobs, representing 4.3% of the state’s total workforce.

Nearly a decade after the Coalition initially convened, and with outdoor industry leaders nationwide commemorating a significant achievement, the Grand Valley Outdoor Recreation Coalition (GVORC) is establishing itself as a 501c3 organization. This milestone comes with the appointment of Chandler Smith, a Colorado native and seasoned industry expert, as its Executive Director. This opportunity has been made feasible through the ongoing investment and backing of the ZOMA Foundation, which, in the summer of 2022, awarded the first of two grants for planning and capacity building.

from left to right: Conner Hall; Director of State OREC Office, Sarah Shrader; Founder and Board President of GVORC, Chandler Smith; Executive Director of GVORC at Kickoff held on Tuesday, March 26th at Trail Life Brewing & The Gear Junction

“Stepping into the role of Executive Director is both an honor and privilege. I intend to lead the organization with passion and a true commitment to inclusivity and community engagement,” stated Smith. “Stewardship, providing equitable access, fostering sustainable growth, and securing funding for our outdoor recreation infrastructure are a few of the initiatives we plan to champion,” he added.

After engaging in a six-month strategic planning initiative guided by Prosono, the GVORC integrated invaluable insights from its leadership council, as well as feedback from 1,300 residents who completed a survey and 64 community and business leaders who partook in roundtable discussions. The survey results showed that over 80% of people who live here do so because of the access to outdoor recreation amenities in the valley. As a result, the GVORC adopted a new purpose, mission and three-year strategic plan. Moreover, they have recently unveiled an updated brand and debuted a website designed to serve as a welcoming gateway to outdoor recreation within the region.

One of thirteen coalitions across the State, the GVORC will also work in tandem with the State OREC office as well as support a Regional Partnership Initiative, funded by Colorado Parks & Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado, working to ensure that the land, water, and wildlife thrive across Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties while also providing for equitable and quality outdoor recreation experiences.

Sign Up to Take Part in Our Mission and Goals

Scroll to Top