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Telluride Region Alternative Futures Study Information

Click here to link to the study, presentations and web site.

The Telluride Foundation has contracted with the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (Harvard) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to conduct an Alternative Futures Study, which would take approximately one year to complete and involve a public, community-based effort. The Study uses advanced global information systems (GIS) computer modeling to project the 20-30 year economic, ecological and community impacts of various near term decision scenarios. The principal objectives of this study are to understand and model regional scale economic, ecological and community interactions and to assist the Telluride Foundation and regional community leaders in decision making that might affect the future of the region.

To reach this objective, research team will develop a set of at least six alternative future scenarios, based on current conditions and reasonable assumptions for the region, and assess their impact on transportation, traffic, tourism, visual corridors, biodiversity, water quality, land use, and other consequences. The results will constitute a synthesis of the best available data and knowledge of existing land use, development and conservation options, and reasonable projections of their likely impacts.

Both Advisory and Technical Committees have been created to oversee the project, comprised of land use planners, GIS experts, public land managers, government officials and staff, community leaders, and nonprofits. These committees will also serve as a resource panel for Harvard and MIT researchers.

Project Need: Twenty years ago, nobody imagined in Park City, Aspen or Vail, the magnitude, scale or speed of development and its resulting impacts. The Telluride Region is on the cusp of a similar stage of development and resulting impacts. Issues include not just residential and commercial building, but also future extensive oil and gas development, uranium mining and milling start-up, conversion of ranch and agricultural lands, water rights and usage, changing workforce demographics, to mention a few. Coupled with the fact that Telluride and Mountain Village will be effectively built out in the next decade, the protection and enhancement of the economy, ecology and community will require thoughtful, fact-based and far-sighted decisions.

The future quality of life of the region will result from the regional-scale interaction of complex economic, ecological, community, land use, water and air quality, transportation, and workforce dynamics.

Project Deliverables:

A website updated regularly with study progress and reporting Participation by and presentations to the Towns and County governments. A series of public meetings to present results A printed publication of the results A database of source data available for future research and analysis

Follow Up and Reporting of Outcomes: Outcomes would be reported to the Telluride Foundation Board, community leaders and the general public through:

A website A blog A report to the Foundation Board Participation and presentations to the Towns and County governments. A final printed publication A series of public meetings Press releases

First Information Gathering Meeting: In October, the consultants from MIT and Harvard met with the Advisory and Technical Committees as well as additional community members and toured the region via car and plane. At the meeting, the consultants surveyed participants about their views of the major issues of importance facing the region. Although not all of these concerns will be covered in the consultants structure, most of them can be analyzed. The issues mentioned include (in no special order):

Population growth Changing business and social structure of Telluride Potential for degradation of the visual quality of the area Water quantity, distribution technologies and policies Transportation, particularly impacts from increasing traffic and issues associated with viable public transport Affordable housing and housing prices Competition from surrounding areas for labor Government services such as locating schools to meet rising demand The commercial composition and viability of downtown Telluride The impacts of oil, gas and uranium extraction Wildlife Fire and its management Climate change

The interdependence of Telluride and the surrounding communities is widely acknowledged and has a profound influence on the study area. Housing markets, labor markets and commercial markets are closely linked among Telluride, Ridgway and Norwood. If the demand for second homes and retirement homes in the greater region continue to increase, there will be pressure on labor and housing markets that will raise costs and further exacerbate the social challenges facing Telluride, particularly on the full-time residents of Telluride. The only long-term solution is a regional solution. The value in this study will be to look at these issues across jurisdictions, in an integrated manner and across longer time horizons. As such, the consultants are recommending that the focus of the study by on the Telluride/Ridgway/Norwood area, basically capturing the majority of the "commuter-shed" of Telluride.