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Sierra Nevada geotourism map a boost to Nevada County

Geotourism: “Tourism that sustains or enhances the place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.”

One of the many enjoyable projects I was involved with as the director of the Nevada County Conference & Visitors Bureau for two-and-one-half years was being on the Sierra Nevada Geotourism council.

I felt this was important to our area, and it turned out to be very educational and fun. This geotourism is produced by National Geographic and sponsored in this region by the Sierra Business Council and Sierra Nevada Conservancy.



In a nutshell, it places California on a world stage through the auspices of National Geographic. A component of the program is the Sierra Nevada Geotourism map, which features historic places and events that run through the 22 counties of the Sierra Nevada from Modoc at the Oregon border to the southern tip in Kern County at Tehachapi Pass. The 22 counties then slice the entire state right down the middle from the lower foothills to the entire eastern California border.

The result is a website … that is visited by some 20,000 people from 95 countries each month …

In 2009, the council formed and representatives from all over the Sierra came together to begin the process of seeking nominations for inclusion on the map and website.




At the outset I remember some confusion about the term geotourism, which was foreign to most of us but was quickly defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

The concept was for each committee member to seek nominations from people in their area. Several local area meetings took place to make sure everyone had an opportunity to nominate a historic place or an event, if he chose to do so.

The program was chaired by Nicole Dejonghe, project manager for the Sierra Business Council, who did an outstanding job of organizing the meetings.

In November of 2010, we went to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to have them “endorse” the project.

I remember it well because they were surprised that there was no cost involved! As was the case with our tourism organization for the most part, much can be done by volunteers.

You will find on our website, http://www.discovernevadacounty.com, an organization listed under “Project Supporters,” along with various other organizations that came along later.

The result is a website, http://www.SierraNevadaGeotourism.org, that is visited by some 20,000 people from 95 countries each month, although most originate from the Central Valley, San Francisco/San Jose and Sacramento areas.

Roughly 100,000 printed MapGuides with a selection of 250 nominations are being distributed throughout the Sierra Nevada in 2012 and 1,500 nominations/favorite places recommended by residents are listed on the SNGT website. So check it out.

I hope the residents of Nevada County are proud of this work and the many, many dedicated volunteers who made it happen, along with many people who made nominations. For every county on the map, including Nevada County, it’s all good in promoting this great form of tourism.

John Zurflueh lives in Grass Valley.


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