Colorado’s mountain towns are being loved to death. A new roadmap can help them escape the “amenity trap.”

A new report by Headwaters Economics highlights progressive growth strategies across the country to help amenity-rich communities navigate growth challenges

Jeeps and crowds help make up the Vail America Days parade Monday, July 4, 2023, in Vail. Thousands descended on Vail for the parade.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The late Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm once ominously warned that the state’s treasured fourteeners were at risk of being loved to death by growing numbers of waffle-stomping hikers. 

Now it is the state’s mountain towns that are threatened by too many people with too much appreciation. 

That’s according to a report issued last week by Montana’s Headwaters Economics, which outlines the challenges facing communities paradoxically blessed with natural attractions that make them great places to live but cursed with growing pains that threaten resources and lifestyles. 

The economists and researchers at Headwaters Economics call it the amenity trap and they’ve mapped out a way communities can escape confounding stresses in rural, amenity-rich regions that are drawing visitors and new residents in record numbers.

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