Building a ‘Mighty’ connection in the South County
‘Mighty 190’ tourism group hopes to brand the Highway 190 corridor as a pathway to outdoor adventure
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
TULARE COUNTY – An oft overlooked roadway connecting residents to some of Tulare County’s most picturesque places is being rebuilt, not its condition but rather its perception.
During its roadshow meeting in Springville on July 30, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors received an update on the effort to rebrand Highway 190 as a corridor to outdoor adventure.
“Some of the most pristine wilderness is in Tulare County,” said Deborah Unser with the Upper Tule Association which puts on the Mountain Festival in Camp Nelson.
In her presentation, Unser said the “Mighty 190,” the new branding for the Highway 190 from Highway 99 to the Sierra Nevada, offers world class biking, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, off-road vehicles and rock climbing at Success Lake, Balch Park, Sequoia National Monument and the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The county is partnering with a score of other agencies to promote tourism traffic along the highway. The Mighty 190 South County Tourism Group said they have already developed “Mighty190” branding and a logo, bought the Mighty 190 web site domain, created social media accounts and built an informational board and restrooms at Success Lake Vista Point that was installed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The group’s mission statement is: “We are committed to strengthening tourism through commerce and recreational opportunities that will lead to a robust economic base for businesses and communities along the Mighty 190 corridor, while also offering inspiring educational experiences that focus on the discovery and protection of the area’s natural wonders and the historical lineage of its people.” It’s tagline is: “Enjoy the Mighty190 and begin making your memories.”
Mighty 190’s Cathy Capone said the rebranding of the highway corridor is an effort to capitalize on the $430 million in Tulare County spent on tourism each year. She said lodgings in Tulare County generate about $7 million in transient occupancy taxes for hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs, etc. She said the Mighty 190 group facilitated keeping the gate at Highway 190 and M-107 open longer than in previous years, resulting in huge profits for local businesses along the route.
“They saw a 100 to 150% increase in revenues, and that’s huge,” said Capone, who is with the Tule River Parkway Association, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping the Tule River free from trash and building trails to make the waterway a fixture in the Porterville area.
The western section of Highway 190 officially ends at Quaking Aspen in the Sequoia National Park before picking back up again 43 miles east at U.S. 395 at Olancha, Calif. The eastern segment goes through Death Valley National Park to State Route 127. Highway 190 goes through the Trail of 100 Giants, the Great Western Divide, Death Valley and Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.
The south county tourism group began on Sept. 13, 2016 and was born out of the Highway 190/Western Divide Highway Snow Removal committee. The partnership now includes the following entities: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service California, California Highway Patrol, Tule River Tribal Council, County of Tulare, City of Porterville, Porterville Chamber of Commerce, Springville Chamber of Commerce, Porterville Unified School District, Tule River Parkway Association, Porterville Museum, Springville Inn, Golden Trout Pack Train, Tulare County Audubon Society and WildPlaces.
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