Leadville aims to mine enthusiasm for outdoors | VailDaily.com

Leadville aims to mine enthusiasm for outdoors

Douglas Brown
The Denver Post
Fatima Chavez, left, and Lille Olsen-Sullivan play the ball while their teammates, the Lake County High School Lady Panthers, practice soccer in the county's new soccer field, on Wednesday, May 5, 2010, in Leadville. Diego James Robles, The Denver Post

LEADVILLE – They persevere through economic busts and beastly winters. They joke about the recession: “Losing a job in Leadville isn’t such a big deal, because you still have two left.” They weather embarrassing headlines: Local woman accused of terrorism. Deputy Tasers students.

Discouraging? Not really. The people of Leadville, population about 3,000, don’t spend much time sulking these days. They are too busy building things, too focused on exploiting the one thing other than minerals they have in abundance: high-mountain wilderness.

Acre by acre, they are battling the bad images by transforming their town into a haven for hikers and instead of mining picks and terrorism how-to manuals.

“There is a feeling here that recreation is our economy,” County Commissioner Mike Bordogna said.

That feeling isn’t just pie-in-the-sky, political sweet talk. Regular folks have it too.

Local mountain bikers will spend months this summer clearing brush for 12 miles of single-track trails. (The long-range plan is for 150 miles.)

Nordic skiers held fundraisers and bought a Sno-Cat last year, which they used to turn a 12-mile, paved loop around the city into a cross-country skiing path.

The ice-skating rink is getting a roof, hockey boards and a Zamboni; the sledding hill is being moved and lengthened; a terrain park for skiers and ‘boarders is going up; tennis courts are becoming a skate park; and a motocross circuit just might get finished.

The county’s recreation department, which did not exist five years ago, now supports a variety of activities, including elk-calling seminars and drop-in soccer leagues. A list of offerings that occupied two or three sheets of paper a few years ago now fills a 32-page guide.

And after five years of fundraisers and hard work, the town is finally enjoying its artificial-turf field

– the highest of its kind in the country, at 10,152 feet.

For more of this Denver Post story: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15052143

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