Chaffee Common Ground is supporting education and interpretation at one of the county’s busiest visitor recreation areas.
More than a dozen new entry-point kiosks and information panels were added in the Fourmile Recreation Area in 2020 to help improve visitor behavior on roads and trails. The project encourages low-impact camping on lands managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Two popular hand-out brochures were revised and reprinted.
Grant-winner Friends of Fourmile, a chapter of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), has documented growing use and impacts as the number and size of campsites doubled in the last decade.
Previous materials promoted the area’s attractions but recognizing the seriousness of recreational impacts, what’s needed now is educational information focused on reducing conflicts among users, encouraging better behavior and minimizing impacts on the natural landscape and wildlife. Fun visuals and upbeat slogans are be used to convey information.
“There are very real impacts associated with recreation growth and they are significant to our local quality of life and visitor satisfaction,” friends of Fourmile Spokesperson Alan Robinson said. “Long-term sustainability of all the benefits recreation brings to Chaffee County depends on keeping those public lands healthy and attractive.”
Fourmile has more than 200 miles of system roads, 27 miles of ATV trails, more than 35 miles of hiking and biking singletrack, and hundreds of dispersed campsites. New visitor information includes:
- Proper campfire practices, fire bans and how to report illegal fires
- Suggestions to pack out human waste
- New maps with appropriate camp locations
- The newest trails and routes to encourage “stay the trail”
- Info to help protect wildlife, their habitats and the area’s limited water sources
The project involves more than 30 different panels and maps at entry points, major use areas and trailheads, as well as a three-year supply of brochures.
Conflicts with agricultural operators are addressed by explaining cattle gate closure protocols and asking visitors to not harass livestock, drive in grazing grasslands or use water in stock tanks.
Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, USFS Salida Ranger District, Town of Buena Vista and Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition. The $26,899 grant was awarded through the Common Ground program and funded by county sales tax collections. The BLM and town contributed a combined $6,500 in matching funds, and Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition pitched in an additional $2,000.
Read more Stories of Impact from Chaffee Common Ground