How can we preserve the beauty of our county? How can we salvage our limping economy? How can we encourage responsible and creative stewardship of our natural resources? On July 15th, Mother Lode welcomed business owners, community planners and concerned citizens to discuss these questions in a workshop on geo-tourism. The workshop was facilitated by Peter Brumis of Geo Sierra and other experts on geo-tourism from the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce.
According to National Geographic, geo-tourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being of its residents. All over the world, unchecked tourism stimulates economies while overwhelming, polluting or otherwise compromising the integrity of locale after locale. Geo-tourism aims to buck this trend by incorporating stewardship of resources into the visitor’s experience. The income that tourism generates may then be re-invested into the preservation of the place and the sustenance of the community.
The workshop organizers praised Mother Lode as a prime example of a geo-tourism destination. Our vision for “healthy people, living in equitable and sustainable societies, in balance with the natural world” aligns with the principles of geo-tourism. Our sustainable practices – from our solar heating systems to our waste vegetable oil vehicles to our permaculture garden – not only reduce our guests’ environmental footprints while they are here, but also serve as models for them to replicate at home.
During the workshop, we all had a chance to brainstorm other geo-tourism assets of El Dorado County. On giant maps of the region, we pointed out our favorite wineries, swimming holes, nature centers, trails and climbing spots. The facilitators explained that we can nominate sites as geo-tourism assets to qualify them for promotion by the El Dorado Geo-Tourism Project. The project will assess the viability of each nominee, evaluating the potential benefits and drawbacks to promoting it as a tourist destination. Selected nominations will be eligible for grant money from the project.
To nominate your favorite geo-tourism destination in El Dorado County, go to geosierra.org