Economic Opportunities: Ecotourism

The Rural Planning Area Working Group hosted four workshops in 2004 to explore ideas for enhancing economic sustainability on the ranches. These include conservation easements, ecotourism, Wind Energy Production, low-impact housing, Wood products, value-added beef products, and native seed production.

The ECOTOURISM Workshop on August 8th was presented by JONATHAN DUNCAN of the Institute for Ecotourism in Sedona, and included a brief talk by JOHN NELSON of the USFS.

JONATHAN talked about the growth of ecotourism and the ideal situation Arizona was in to capitalize on this interest. Wildlife viewing, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking, and generally enjoying a rustic Western experience have all become very viable economic enterprises.

JOHN discussed some of the existing uses of the National Forest such as geo-caching, mountain biking and bird watching. The Forest Service needs partners to make recreational opportunities work. There are also opportunities to provide services to hunters including guiding and assistance in hauling out animals. Rustic cabin rental such as the USFS has initiated also has potential.