Q. Much of Fayette County’s tourism is based on outdoor recreation and the beauty of our natural surroundings. Yet some locals have also raised concern over surface mining that’s going on in the county. Are outdoor recreation tourism and intensive forms of resource extraction compatible?
It is (incompatible) if mountaintop mining is destroying assets used in adventure tourism, but I don’t know that it is. From my experience, adventure tourists are coming for the experience and the memories. I don’t know how much a visual plays a part in that. I haven’t done any surveys. It hasn’t slowed anything down around here, has it? That’s what I’d look at. I think adventure tourism and a sustainable environment can go hand in hand. (Surface mining) is a part of the natural resources here being changed. The consumer will determine whether that’s detrimental or not. ... Probably that could impact you in the future. ... You’ve got a great base of adventure tourism and I wouldn’t want to see that erode. That’s a tough balance.
Q.How do you keep the “unique local flavor” of a place that you talk about, and that people come here to enjoy, and at the same time welcome people into the community who may bring other cultural influences?
You’ve got to have an open mind about new ideas and diversity. The fact is that the new creative class wants to live in places where there is diversity and where people are not just like them. They want to live in a community where people are different. Those areas that get ready to attract this creative class of workers — and by getting ready that’s beefing up your tourism assets — embrace that, and are authentic in that are going to be the ones that attract that creative class that can live anywhere they want to.