Friday Mar 19 2010
Showcasing Auburn’s treasures
By: Melody Stone
Geotourism shines light on area’s uniqueness
National Geographic wants to hear what residents think makes Auburn unique, authentic and worth visiting. The magazine is organizing a series of geotourism community surveys and accepting nominations for places of historical, cultural or geographical interest. National Geographic defines geotourism as, “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.” Angela Tahti, executive director of PlacerArts council, sits on the board for the geocouncil (the group helping decide which nominations go to National Geographic for approval). She said she’s really excited about the prospects of geotourism’s impact on the area. “Auburn is seated in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Tahti said. “We’re so blessed (with) both recreational and open-space opportunities.” Tahti said the geotourism project serves as a highlighter for the cultural and geographical assets, the “treasured land and the cultural amenities” of the community. “Geotourism really is about the sense of place and authentic themes that draw one to visit or live, versus ‘anywhere USA’,” Tahti said. “It’s a community project. The community will be invited to make nominations for what they think is wonderful about their community.” Tahti gave the example of someone from New York who wants to visit California. They’ve never heard of Auburn, but they know about the Sierra and look up the area using National Geographic’s geotourism site. Through the process they discover Auburn. “If geotourism can raise the visibility of the wonders of the entire Sierra Nevada then Auburn can be found through that lens,” Tahti said. “(Auburn) will be found by people who are seeking authentic experiences and who will care about our community once they get here.” Bruce Cosgrove, Auburn Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said he thinks this project could be “huge” for Auburn. He said putting emphasis on historical, cultural and geographic treasures locals take for granted will generate business and give locals a new appreciation for the community. “(The project) will generate more interest and cause people to visit,” Cosgrove said. “I think what National Geographic is attempting to do is put a new, fresh marketing awareness on those treasures.” Nicole DeJonhe, the Sierra Business Council geotourism program director for the region they are calling the Tahoe Emigrant Corridor, is in charge of outreach to the communities involved in the project. The Tahoe Emigrant Corridor is one of four California geotourism regions focusing on the Sierra Nevada and includes Placer, El Dorado, and Nevada counties. DeJonhe is currently seeking community partners to help inform the residents of the program and prepare for a nomination period. “We’re really focused on sustainable tourism,” DeJonhe said. “We’re encouraging tourism activities that help sustain and enhance the region.” Nominations can be submitted at sierranevadageotourism.org and should include a written explanation of the item, place, person, or event being nominated, three high-quality pictures, contact information regarding the item being nominated, and be found on the site’s map. DeJonhe said since it might take a while to prepare all the elements of a nomination, so people should start now. Auburn Councilman Mike Holmes said he’s excited for the project’s completion. “Once this project is completed (tourists will) be able to go to a National Geographic Web site and plug in what they are interested in and see sites of interest and places to stay, eat and play,” Holmes said. “It’s basically an effort to identify prominent locations within our area that tourists might be interested in visiting.” Characteristics of geotourism attractions · Remarkable natural areas, such as lakes, canyons and forests · Distinct wildlife habitats · Local cuisine and agriculture · Events, ceremonies, festivals · Cultural sites; museums, theaters, performing arts centers · Outdoor experiences, like rafting, hiking, horseback riding and hiking · Places of historical significance · Community stewardship projects, like land trusts, and conservation initiatives · Locally owned businesses · Persons of interest, such as storytellers, outdoor guides or historians How to nominate Nominate a person, place or activities for National Geographic’s geotourism site via an online nominating form at www.sierranevadageotourism.org Nominations require: 1. Text – Tell the story why should the item be a geotourism attraction 2. Media - Three high quality pictures, and/or video or audio 3. Contact information – how to get a hold of someone related to the site or attraction 4. Mapping – indicate the item’s location on the geotourism site map For more information call Program Director Nicole DeJonghe at 530.582.4800 ext. 25 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.