According to Green and Haines, Environmental or Natural Capital is “the stock of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources available in the locality or region” (2016, p. 254). These resources include air, water, and an abundance of flora and fauna, which are amenities communities can benefit from. Richmond, Vermont is one of our local communities that benefits from a variety of these natural resources.
A diversity of environments surrounds the center of town. The Winooski River meanders by farms, near residential homes, and parallel to Richmond’s largest park, Volunteers Green. Fertile silt from the river is deposited onto surrounding agricultural lands during spring flooding, which increases land productivity. The Huntington River, a tributary of the Winooski, has several renowned swimming holes that attract people from around Vermont. A variety of hardwoods grow on Richmond’s hills, which provide fall foliage that attracts tourists. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing in 2013 reported, “Visitors to Vermont spend almost $2.5 billion per year” (Jones, 2015). Green and Haines (2016, p.255) stated, “preservation or promotion of amenities can promote higher levels of development, as in the case of recreation or tourism area.” For winter enthusiasts a small, family owned, ski area called Cochran’s has preserved and improved their amenities for local residents.
After Cochran’s was founded in 1961 it quickly became an Olympic-caliber mountain. The Cochran family’s Olympic success attracted more visitors and local interest in ski racing. In 1998, it became the nation’s first 501(c)(3) tax-exempt ski area. Their mission statement is, “to provide area youth and families with affordable skiing and snowboarding, lessons and race training, in the Cochran tradition”(Cochran’s Ski Area, 2016). Forty-five minutes away is Sugarbush Resort, which charges $95 for a full-day adult lift ticket, while Cochran’s offers their tickets at $25 a day for adults. Their accessibility and affordability are integral parts of breaking down barriers of entry for Richmond’s residents to try out winter sports.
Cochran’s Ski Area. (2016). History. Retrieved from http://www.cochranskiarea.com/history
Green, G.P. & Haines, Foster (2016). Asset Building & Community Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Jones, K. (2015). Benchmark study of the impact of visitor spending on the Vermont economy: 2013. Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.uvm.edu/tourismresearch/publications/vermont-tourism-benchmark-study-2013.pdf