Steamboat city, chamber create fund to mitigate impacts of special events |

Steamboat city, chamber create fund to mitigate impacts of special events

Fireworks light up the night sky above Howelsen Hill Ski Area in last February. The show, which was presented by Yampa Valley Bank, was part of the 2021 Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival Celebration. l John F. Russel/Steamboat Pilot & Today

In an effort to promote sustainability and mitigate negative impacts of special events, the Steamboat Springs Chamber and city have designated two $30,000 pots of money for event producers to improve their programs.

The first pot of money is for event organizers to mitigate the impact to the neighborhood around them. Groups applying for the money could use it for shuttles to bring attendees in, bike racks to encourage participants to bicycle in instead of driving, parking monitors or flyers, and campaigns to alert neighbors in the area of the event weeks before it happens.

“We heard from neighborhoods where a lot of our parks are at about the impact of the event in that neighborhood,” said Rachel Lundy, Steamboat executive assistant and special events coordinator. “There are a lot of things that event producers can do to mitigate.”

The second pot is designated for sustainability purposes. Event producers interested can apply for four tiers of sustainability: sustainable pre-planning, no single-use plastic bottles handed out, using only recyclable materials and zero-waste events, with manned compost and recycling stations.

Those choosing not to use single-use plastic water bottles would still have to provide water but could do so using other means.

Lundy said the sustainability fund is to help special events be brought up to speed with Routt County’s climate action goals.

“Sustainability is an ongoing City Council goal,” Lundy said. “We want to achieve it with all their efforts — and discussion that’s been had toward sustainability.”

Event producers can also come up with their own ideas to meet sustainability or neighborhood mitigation, but Lundy said the city wanted to come up with parameters to inspire producers.

“We wanted to keep it really open and really let the event producers come up with some ideas, but we also wanted to give them some guidelines so they could come up with the purpose of these dollars,” Lundy said.

The money is a partnership between the city and chamber. The two have held a partnership for decades where they used financial incentives to bring events to town during the city’s off seasons, where less tourists were visiting and bringing in sales tax revenue. Now that the city is busier every season, the groups are pivoting to use the money for mitigation, rather than promotion.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations around tourism lately, and that was where the community impact fund was born from,” said Sarah Leonard, Steamboat Chamber community development director. “That exists for event producers to negate some of the more problematic impacts that can happen from events.”

The money comes from the city’s budget, and the chamber has an appointed committee to review applications from event managers. The committee makes recommendations to Steamboat Springs City Council, who has the final say over who receives funds.

Leonard said the committee has received five applications so far, and applications are due Feb. 10.

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