Some projects seem like they never end, but diligence and perseverance have paid off for the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses. Back in 2013 at a monthly board meeting the chamber directors were discussing ways to benefit local businesses and encourage more people to visit Crawford. A decision was made to pursue signage that would encourage travelers on Highway 50 to take Highway 92 to Crawford, with the promise that both services and amenities are available in the Crawford area. What seemed a simple goal turned into a more than two-year process.
In January 2014, Debbie French, co-owner of the French Country Inn, agreed to head up the effort, with the support of then board members Lynne Watkins, president, from Don's Directory, Cathy Cheatham, treasurer, owner of Grandview Hairport, Donna Cochran, secretary, of Amway Global, Connie Layton from First State Bank of Colorado-Crawford, Jennifer Ludwig, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Locksmith and president of the Crawford Fire Auxiliary, Gloria Crank, owner of the North Fork Visitor Guide, Donna Saunders, owner of the Boardwalk Restaurant and Susan Ayer, owner of the Stewart Homestead Cabin.
French spent nearly two years working through the CDOT process but eventually received a denial due to the distance between the town and Highway 50. Regulations required that the services be located within three miles of the signs. Not to be deterred, French and the board continued the effort and requested a variance based on the fact that Crawford is considered the southern gateway to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and one of Colorado's most unique Creative Districts. In addition, a case was made that with today's automobile navigation systems and tourist interest in exploring "the roads less traveled" it is important to both the guests and the businesses to promote the services that are available.
In August of this year, the Colorado Department of Transportation notified the chamber that the request had been granted and that signs were ordered. Today, thanks to the efforts of the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Department of Transportation, both commuters and visitors who choose to explore the "back road to the North Fork Valley" will notice lodging, dining and fuel are available in Crawford.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.