Dubois Town Council rejects Gateway Community designation in 3-1 vote

The Dubois Town Council voted not to become a Gateway Community for the Continental Divide Trail last week.

Without support from the city, the designation will not occur, according to the minutes from the April 13 meeting.

Tourism

The Gateway Community designation is supposed to draw tourism to Dubois by advertising the amenities available there for users of the Continental Divide Trail.

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Several residents spoke against the effort during a Dubois Town Council meeting in March, however, suggesting that the city might not want to attract more tourists, especially from the Continental Divide Trail.

More concerns came up last week, with some people asking how involved the town would be in the Gateway Community marketing efforts, for example.

Wind River Visitors Council executive director Helen Wilson said the Wind River Outdoor Recreation Collaborative would manage the marketing, and a local “sub-group” of interested participants would discuss the topic quarterly.

The designation also comes with a requirement to host an annual event that spreads awareness about the Continental Divide Trail, she said.

Some support

Several residents said Dubois should support the Gateway Community designation, which would give the town more control over tourism messaging and provide more advertising resources, without any financial commitment.

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Others said they wanted more information about the potential impacts of the designation, particularly on horseback riding and ATV usage, and they suggested the council wait to approve the move until they know more about the process.

“They seemed open to revisiting the designation in the future,” Wilson said this week, adding, “(We) will revisit the Dubois designation when the time feels right.”

Meanwhile, the WRVC will continue working toward Gateway Community recognition for Lander-South Pass City.

Both efforts were initiated after the University of Wyoming contacted the WRVC asking for ideas for senior projects in the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program.

“It’s been wonderful to work with the University of Wyoming students,” Wilson said this week. “Despite Dubois not being recognized as a Gateway Community at this time, I still view the project as a success. The three students learned a lot as they worked through the designation process, and that learning, along with community outreach and the presentations that they put together, will benefit them in their future projects and careers.”

She thanked everyone who expressed support and concerns during the Dubois Town Council meetings, as well as the people who wrote letters of support for the project.

The vote

Dubois Town Council Member Randy Lahr offered the lone vote in favor of the designation last week. Council members Rick Lee, Patricia Neveaux and Bruce John Thompson voted “no,” and Dubois Mayor John Meyer did not vote.

Meyer suggested that Wilson could try to designate Fremont County as a Gateway Community instead, and she said that was possible.

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