Drilling in the Piceance Basin

(Courtesy of Flickr user Lee Gelatt)

Grand Junction is surrounded by a hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But it has been in the economic doldrums. In recent years, drilling rigs have sat idle. Oil and gas companies have moved on to other states. And unemployment has climbed to some of the highest levels in Colorado.

But the election of President Trump has sparked hopes for an energy comeback. Under the campaign-promise umbrella of creating jobs, Trump has said he will loosen regulations on fossil fuels and create a friendlier business environment for the energy sector.  

"The President's support for the energy industry has started some early activities with energy companies getting things going again," said Kristi Pollard, Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Outdoor recreation is becoming a more important part of the Grand Junction economy.

(Courtesy of Flickr Ben Kuhns)

Pollard predicts that this time around, a resurgence in the energy industry won't look like past booms. Two factors are expected to make the Grand Valley more sustainable in the long term: A pipeline project could create a steady overseas market for the area's gas. And a growing outdoor recreation industry could give Grand Junction more economic diversity.

The two-year-old Grand Valley Outdoor Recreation Coalition is working in tandem with the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association to promote Mesa County's many outdoor recreation opportunities. 

"It's really important for us in a very divisive political climate to collaborate here," said Sarah Shrader, a member of the Grand Valley Outdoor Recreation Coalition. "We want to be an example to show that these two industries that weren't even talking before, can work together."

 Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner interviewed Pollard and Shrader.

Related: