"Not many American towns the size of Pinedale, population roughly 2,000, can boast that they have a $22 million aquatic center, with a beautiful lap pool, water slides, yoga rooms and a three-story climbing wall.
Then again, most rural towns this size probably haven't had the steady pipeline of tax revenue from natural gas pumped off nearby federal land to pay for it. The opening of the center, more than a decade ago, convinced its now director Amber Anderson to move back home after college in 2018 as a young professional.
"I would not have come back to Pinedale had it not been for this facility, and my family's all here and I love the outdoors and stuff but there just wasn't a lot to offer in Pinedale," says Anderson.
The Jonah Field is one of the most productive federal drilling lands in the country. But in the last few years, things have gotten tough. When prices were high, companies drilled a lot, but now there's a glut. Prices tanked and the pandemic has made that even worse. Locally, people are getting laid off, and Anderson recently had to cut the aquatic center's budget by almost half."