OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects

Southwest Colorado Council of Governments

OSMRE / VISTA: Shannon Cramer
Supervisor: Miriam Gillow-Wiles
Address: P.O. Box 963, Durango, Colorado 81302-0963
County: La Plata
Voice Telephone: 570-460-2934
Email: vista@swccog.org
Web site: www.swccog.org
Congressional District:
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)


The Southwest Colorado Council of Government’s vision is to work to increase efficiency, reduce redundancy, and act as a resource multiplier for SW Colorado governments and service providers. The OSMRE/VISTA will engage communities on a regional level to address needs that include: the regional recycling effort, transportation, housing, and generally helping build capacity of the SWCCOG to address the long term needs of the region. Addressing these needs will occur in tandem with the creation and development of a Shared Services Model.

The SWCCOG’s project(s) will address the economic impacts of legacy mining through economic development. The Shared Services for local governments will reduce overhead and will allow the governments to be able to reinvest the saved costs in their community. This reinvestment may be through beautification, road work, or even job creation. The Regional Recycling Initiative will help develop increased levels of recycling and to deal with more recyclables, more jobs will be needed. These jobs are expected to be blue collar positions that pay fairly. Regional Transit will allow people from areas hit hard by the economic impacts of legacy mining (as well as other areas of the region) to be able to travel to and from work while spending less money on transportation costs. Thus allowing them to purchase more goods and services. Broadband development in the region is the most vital part of breaking the economic issues surrounding legacy mining. With broadband connectivity, people can finish high school, attend higher educational opportunities, work from home (typically higher than average wages), and local businesses can market, sell, and process credit with broadband. Without Broadband these communities will have a harder time moving past the historic economic issues surrounding legacy mining.

About the Surrounding Community

The Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (SWCCOG) was founded in late 2009 by IGA to apply for a grant to work on Broadband in the SW Colorado region. Since 2009 the SWCCOG has grown and expanded its work. In 2011 the SWCCOG had a goal setting session and came out with the six goals of Ageing, Environment, Housing, Telecommunications, Transportation, and Tourism. Under these six headings, the SWCCOG administers a variety of projects and programs. These programs include, regional recycling, broadband development, the Transportation Planning Region, the Local Transit Council, community resiliency and sustainability, shared services, and the fiscal agent for the Southwest Incident Management Team the State Homeland Security regional grants.

The members of the SWCCOG are Archuleta County, Town of Bayfield, City of Cortez Dolores County, Town of Dolores, City of Durango, Town of Ignacio, La Plata County, Town of Mancos, Town of Pagosa Springs, San Juan County, and the Town of Silverton. Although we mainly work with the local governments, we also partner with state government entities, regional non-profits, both the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes.

The take away from the SWCCOG’s mission and vision (found on the front page of our website) is that we work on increasing efficiency, reducing redundancy, and acting as an advocate for SW Colorado.

Project Overview

Many people do not associate local governments with being leaders of change or having much to do with poverty indicators. All the counties administer human services such as Child and Family Services, SNAP, financial services, and senior services (with some variance between counties). Most of the municipalities and counties provide significant amounts of money to nonprofits working on anti-poverty issues. By working on shared services with local governments and these nonprofits we can help reduce overhead costs which can then become service dollars.

Transportation and housing are two of the SWCCOG’s goals, but also the cost of both disproportionally affect those in poverty. There is a Greyhound replacement that moves between Durango and Grand Junction, but the times of travel do not line up with a standard 8-5 workday or even swing shift. The only other transit option is between Durango, Bayfield, and Ignacio. This services the 8-5 work force between these three communities. The Durango Herald recently published the county’s average home price at $345,000 for 2014. While the Regional Housing Alliance of La Plata County (RHALPC) identified that household income needed to afford the median priced home was $71,000, but that 65% of La Plata households cannot afford a median priced home. Due to this, many lower income families are moving farther and farther away from the municipal centers to afford housing. As people move farther away, distances to workplaces increase, causing lower income people to spend a higher percentage of income on transportation. The OSMRE/VISTA will work in conjunction with the Transit Council and transit providers to help develop regional transit options.

The OSMRE/VISTA will also bring together data on housing in Archuleta, Dolores, Montezuma, and San Juan into concise and easy to read information, much like the RHALPC did for La Plata County. With this data, we can then work on helping put the pieces of the puzzle together for affordable housing near municipal centers.

Sponsors and Partners

see: swccog.org