Colorado floods recovery: Damage, repair work could hurt tourism and economy

Thousands of Colorado jobs are related to visitors

After a decade-long struggle with drought, wildfires and even grasshopper infestations, the future of some of Colorado's most iconic rivers is only now starting to take shape after the devastation of last fall's historic floods.

At stake are tens of millions of taxpayer dollars for disaster recovery, tourism, the quality of life for people in these big canyons and the economic lifeblood of the northern Front Range.

"Colorado fears its tourists may decide to vacation elsewhere due to the perception of remaining significant damage," according to the state's pending application for more federal money. "If the decrease in tourism revenue continues, this will lead to continued decline in employment, as well."

In Larimer County alone, the livelihoods of more than 6,700 people are related to visitors.

The flood crippled tourism in Larimer County in the fall, and this spring travelers through the canyons are greeted with patches of dusty dirt roads, destroyed hillsides, muddy rivers and traffic that creeps and halts in cluttered work zones.

Tourists, like fish, can wait only so long before they move on.

Read more from our partners at the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25719743/colorado-floods-recovery-fishing-tourism-count-health-states-rivers