CLIFTON — How does tubing and kyaking down the San Francisco River sound?

At the new quarterly meeting of the Greenlee County Tourism Council, that was one of the proposals put forward, this coming from a Graham County elected official.

Graham County Supervisor Danny Smith drew on his expertise from his business life in the Gila Valley to discuss his vision for Graham and Greenlee counties, saying the two areas can work together to help form what he called “a string of pearls” in the region in promoting tourism.

Praising the San Francisco River that winds through Clifton, Smith said it was his vision “to see every parking spot through town filled with vehicles that have kayaks and mountain bikes on them.” For natives in Graham and Greenlee the rivers represent agriculture, for the most part; but Smith told the Tourism Council that, in his time, he’s found that for tourists, “a lot of people appreciate the river differently.”

The meeting was hosted at Clifton’s newest restaurant, the Daily Diner. The quarterly meeting was an opportunity for the public to interact with the Tourism Council and see not just the daily order of business, but plans for the future.

Funding from both the county and FMI was received for the annual event, the Colors of Copper, that falls under the jurisdiction of the Tourism Council; and leader Bette Antonson said the goal is to make the art show self-sufficient. In a change from last year, the organizers are looking to have a microbrew tasting event occur Sunday — joining wine tasting on Friday and Saturday — to further draw guests.

Guest speaker Vance Bryce, executive director for the Graham County Chamber of Commerce, shared in his praise for the counties working together to draw in tourism to the region. A day trip between Safford and Clifton would be nothing for visitors from Phoenix used to driving to the other side of that city.

Bryce also promoted his three-pillar philosophy for development and discussed plans to revitalize the Salsa Trail, expanding to be an actual trail for foodies to follow, thus promoting regional cuisine.

Bryce praised Taqueria Serape and its location on Chase Creek, which Bryce identified as a potential big tourist draw.

“It’s an incredible place. Chase Creek is an asset,” Bryce said.

Other council business was passed without objection. The next meeting of the Tourism Council will take place Sept. 10, with another general mixer scheduled to occur later this year.

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