Economic Impact Of Beaver Creek Fire

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By Rachel Holt

Ketchum, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) It's been more than eight months since the Beaver Creek Fire burned 114 thousand acres of the Sawtooth National Forest.

As new trees and shrubbery work to bring life back to the area, local businesses are also trying to rebuild and recover.

"The bottom dropped out. We were on the way to having one of the best summers, and the fire came and all tourism stopped 190 percent. Our sales dropped off by about 80 percent after the fire last year," says Tom Nickel, Sawtooth Club owner.

Nickel says he's still trying to recover from the Beaver Creek Fire.

What started as a lightning strike on August 7th, turned into a raging wildfire near Ketchum.

While only one home was lost, the damage to local businesses and residents was done.

“The month of August is our profit month, as you call it, and when you lose your profit month, it means you work all year for no profit, so it’s tough,” explains Doug Brown, Wood River Economic Partnership.

Now contrary to what people may think, the majority of tourism occurs during the summer months as opposed to the winter, meaning last year's fire occurred at the worst possible time for business owners.

“We were probably down about half of the normal occupancy we would have been during those weeks, so that was a pretty significant impact for the community,” says Arlene Schieven, President of CMO.

An estimated 170 thousand visitors come to the area during the summer.

Last August, the lack of revenue generated from tourism was startling for all of Blaine County.

“For 3rd quarter we were down 23 percent in sales in the valley, which was 43 million dollars that didn't get spent compared to the quarter the year before, and that's huge, so it was a big setback, for sure,” Brown explains.

But with warmer temperatures comes the promise of new visitors and an opportunity to bounce back.

"We are moving forward with business as usual and looking forward to a great summer season,” Schieven says.

A new year ahead for a small community devastated by Mother Nature.

Community members believe a number of events this summer will help the community, including the Wellness Festival next weekend.

They also hope new direct flights from Denver and San Francisco will bring new faces to the areas.


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