Access to open space a major factor in Grand Junction’s high quality of life
By Jen Taylor Muhr
I am lucky to have a unique job that allows me to live in a variety of places. But I have chosen to live in western Colorado (Grand Junction, by way of Telluride) for some 23 years now.
When my employer, Mountain Khakis, purchased a company that I had established here in Grand Junction called Mountain Sprouts, they wanted me to relocate to the company’s brand headquarters in Jackson Hole. But I declined. When the transaction took place, the terms included me staying in western Colorado, opening an office here for our new, larger company.
Crazy, right? Why did I turn down the opportunity to live in such an epic location as Jackson Hole — a place that perfectly suited our family’s outdoor-centric lifestyle? It was simple. Because Jackson Hole doesn’t offer the quality of life and lifestyle that Grand Junction does.
Our valley is rich. Far richer than the temptations of a world-class ski town or any other location in my opinion. We boast a temperate climate, diverse ecosystems, a world-renowned trail system five minutes from downtown, a National Monument in our backyard, the world’s largest flat-top mountain (for crying out loud!), the central access to neighboring resort towns and national parks, the I-70 corridor, the ripe-to-become-international airport … it’s a beautiful place to live, and it’s a smart place to live.
But the biggest reason that I moved here, have stayed here, and refuse to leave here is our access to open space. It is unrivaled.
Look any direction and the horizon lends a unique silhouette of open space. It has fostered terrifically active non-profit stewards and volunteers, in which our family is actively involved. It is rich with history and heritage, and long-cultivated, fruitful partnerships with federal land agencies. It is as diverse as our valley’s geology, geography and ecosystems. It is the root of the draw that makes the Grand Valley a world-class outdoor recreation destination for mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, river-running, dirt biking, skiing, hiking, hunting and rock-hounding. Access to open space is truly the Grand Valley’s golden egg.
Today, my business partners understand my reasons for not leaving western Colorado. Just as I chose Grand Junction, they have now chosen Grand Junction, too. They travel here from our offices in Jackson Hole, Charlotte, and Seattle to work, visit and recreate. They value the cachet that comes with having an office in Colorado, and the pulse it provides on the Rocky Mountain region. They marvel at the grandeur, natural wonder, openness, freedom and sense of rugged pioneering spirit that still exists here… all waypoints that are all essential to the Mountain Khakis brand.
I could live anywhere with my job. But I am grateful to live in Grand Junction.
Here’s the thing, though. With all the virtues and opportunities that come with our valley’s incredible, unrivaled access to open space, it is in jeopardy. Colorado open space is in danger by pressure from out-of-state interests to transfer control of national public lands to the state.
This notion, if enacted, could potentially result in our favorite places being fenced off or even sold to the highest bidder. These efforts are being pushed by groups such as the American Lands Council, and they do not have our best interests at heart. Introduced under the guise of attempts to coordinate wildfire response, these measures would be devastating to our unique outdoor heritage. Colorado would be required to take on the $300 million price of maintaining our national public lands. If a transfer were to take place, the state would be forced to either implement huge tax hikes or profit off the land by opening it up to development.
Our public lands are too important to Colorado, to the Grand Valley. If we allow these ideas to become law, we could see massive closures on our public lands, increased fees, and development that would irrevocably tarnish the open access to natural wonders that make this part of Colorado such a unique treasure. All of us should be granted access to our cherished landscapes, including future generations of Coloradans.
Our family will be voting against these measures that jeopardize our access to open space. We urge you to do the research, make educated decisions, and vote. And realize, next time you’re appreciating our beautiful horizon, our access to these public lands is a sacred prize worth fighting for.
Jen Taylor Muhr is a partner, creative director and brand manager with Mountain Khakis.