The Ely Times

Philip Cowee, director of the USDA and staff, Kelly Clark, special projects, public affairs & native american coordinator and Louise Torres, USDA community development specialist met with several agencies to discuss ways to update its Community Economic Development Strategy, a regional planning document that encourages collaboration and strategic approaches to development.

The main focus of their visit was to focus on recreation economy for White Pine County. More than 34 community members from several different outdoor recreations groups met to share ideas about regional outdoor recreation goals.

During an interview, Cowee and Clark explained one of their reasons for visiting White Pine County was to bring a group of partners together and see what they can get done for Ely.

Clark said, “One of the things that we have heard as we started talking with folks from Ely, is that they have seen opportunity for mountain biking in Ely, and they want to maybe copy the model that Carson City has had with putting in trails and bringing in a lot of tourism through the trails and economic development.

“The Carson City Off-Road Race,  Mountain Bike race brings over a million and a half dollars in one weekend.  So, we’re here as partners bringing our resources to help Ely become an outdoor destination.”

Clark went on to discuss the assets that are available from Travel Nevada, the Recreational Trails Program, and Great Basin Initiative, a nonprofit group that has Vista and Americor volunteers that can plan trails and build trails.

When asked if they thought Ely was too remote for something like this, Cowee said, “I don’t think so. We’ve been talking to Utah to bring them in as a partner. Most people like to travel a few days when vacationing, so taking a few days to ride trails in Utah, then they travel here and ride trails, move on to Carson City, and then maybe Tahoe, so it’s all tied into one trip. people can have more options.”

The NDOT project was mentioned by Cowee how this was an example of another exciting project for Ely. “I’ve seen what it’s done to downtown Carson City, McFadden Plaza, it just opens up lots of opportunities.”

Clark went on to explain that one of the things that has made these meetings  possible is that Caroline McIntosh, Tourism and Recreation board member, and Cowee worked together previously in Lyon County.

“They have a level of trust and understanding, when they started to talk about Ely,” she said. “It was like were do we want to move forward,  versus trying to get things established, and same with Kyle Horvath and I.  We worked together in Carson City.”

Cowee also noted he thought a big part of this effort is being here, coming to Ely, “I think it’s important when you say you’re going to bring resources you bring them,” he said.

At the afternoon meeting, groups like the Northern Nevada Railway, the Ely Shoshone Tribe, the Trap and Skeet Club and the High Desert Trail Blazers provided information about their existing events.

The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts and Ely Shoshone Tribe shared ideas about fun runs and competitive races.

Ideas of regional outdoor activities were discussed as well. At the top of the list was mountain biking, trails on Ward Mountain, Cave Lake, developing wildlife viewing, and encouraging Silver State Trails and other OHV activities.

Multiple agency staff from the State Parks Trail Program, International Mountain Biking Association, Great Basin Institute and the Great Basin Heritage Area provided information regarding funding or staff to support outdoor recreation and trail building.

New Tourism and Recreation Director Kyle Horvath encouraged all the attendees to keep creating positive events for the community and committed to supporting them with graphics and social media support.

At the end of the day, two representatives of the Nevada Off-Highway Vehicle Commission committed to holding their conference at the Bristlecone Convention Center later this fall, and two committees were created: one on funding support for recreation activities and the other for trail coordination.

Horvath was very pleased with the community turnout and the support for outdoor recreation and looked forward to working with everyone to move projects forward.

Clark said, “When you’re looking at partnerships, everybody needs to have their eyes wide open, what is it that we can do together, and how do we make this all work together.”