Jan. 15, 2024 — The Common Ground 2023 Annual Report is available for review, summarizing the program’s total investments and fifth funding cycle, during which nearly $1.5 million in grants were distributed. Awards included $450,451 for forest health and wildfire resilience, $588,077 to sustain rural landscapes, and $402,800 for recreation management that protects watersheds and landscapes in Chaffee County. Matching cash and in-kind funds totaled $835,616 in 2023.
To date, $7.6 million has been awarded by Common Ground to dozens of local groups and partnerships. Matching investments for these grants will bring $28 million in value to the community by 2026.
The report is the fifth installment of a commitment to accountability made during the 2018 ballot measure campaign that funded Common Ground through a 0.25% sales tax.
Major investments in 2023 include support for ongoing forest treatments as planned and executed by the Envision Forest Health Council, which is now comprised of 60 leaders who work together to implement the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The plan’s top goal is to treat 30,000 priority acres by 2030 to improve wildfire resiliency and wildlife habitat. Grants support staff and equipment for firefighters and foresters as well a project that restores Fourmile Creek.
Common Ground continues to directly support agricultural sustainability by funding conservation easement opportunities, irrigation ditch maintenance projects, and additional programs such as virtual fencing that help keep ranches in operation during a time of fast-paced growth and development.
Investments in recreation management will protect watersheds and landscapes from the impacts of dispersed camping growth. A Colorado Parks and Wildlife project was supported to monitor elk by satellite — part of a Keep it Wild initiative outlined in the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan. Trails planning and backcountry campsite condition monitoring also were supported in 2023. Check the report for full investment details.
County program to allocate approximately $750,000 for conservation work
Jan. 9, 2024 — The Chaffee Common Ground Citizens Advisory Committee will open a grant cycle on Jan. 17.Approximately $750,000 will be available during this grant cycle for programs and projects that strengthen forest health and reduce wildfire danger; conserve and support agricultural lands and rural landscapes; and manage the impacts of growth in outdoor recreation.
Community organizations and others interested in applying for funds are encouraged to attend an Information Session from 9-11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22 to learn about eligibility requirements and grant criteria. To participate in the Information Session, connect via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/4328290633 or call 1-669-900-6833 and entering meeting ID #432 829 0633. Contact Common Ground Administrator Ben Doon at email@example.com for questions or more information about the Zoom session.
The pre-application deadline is Feb. 16 and the deadline for full applications is March 22.
Funding recommendations by the Citizens Advisory Committee are subject to approval by the Board of County Commissioners. Awards will be announced in May for funding in early June. Read about successful local programs and projects that have been supported by Common Ground funding, or go to the Grantee Info tab for application guidelines and links.
Created when voters approved a 0.25% sales tax increase in 2018, Common Ground supports locally based, collaborative programs and projects through a transparent grant process that leverages revenues to achieve the highest impact. To date, $7.7 million in grants awarded include matching funds and in-kind services that will bring $28 million in value to the community by 2026.
The Citizens Advisory Committee provides the Chaffee Common Ground 2022 Annual Report to the community to summarize program investments.
During the fourth funding cycle in 2022, $890,005 in grants were awarded, including $519,205 for forest health and wildfire resilience, $208,100 to sustain rural landscapes, and $162,700 for recreation management that protects watersheds and landscapes in Chaffee County. Matching cash and in-kind funds totaled $1,753,371.
To date, more than $6.1 million has been awarded by Common Ground to about 50 local groups and partnerships. Matching investments for these grants will bring $26.6 million in value to the community, meaning that the dedicated sales tax has been leveraged by four times to benefit the citizens of Chaffee County.
“In just four years, we’ve made dramatic progress in all three priority areas of Common Ground,” said Michael Hannigan, Vice-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee. “Thank you all for your vision and actions to make our slice of Colorado a superb place to live, work and play.”
Major investments in 2022 include support for ongoing forest treatments as planned and executed by the Envision Forest Health Council, which is now comprised of 44 leaders who work together to implement the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and its top goal to treat 30,000 priority acres by 2030. Grants also support staff and equipment for firefighters and foresters to complete the treatments.
Common Ground continues to directly support agricultural sustainability by funding conservation easement opportunities, irrigation ditch maintenance projects and additional programs that help keep ranches in operation as the county experiences a period of fast-paced growth and development. An innovative 2022 project tests the efficacy of virtual fencing to more efficiently manage livestock with radio towers and collars.
Investments in recreation management focused in 2022 on projects that protect watersheds and landscapes from the impacts of growth in outdoor visitation. Grant awards improve Buena Vista’s Whipple Trail and the Monarch Park Campground. A set of awards paid for portable toilets at a dozen popular recreation areas last summer, part of a Keep it Clean initiative outlined in the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan.
Support for the Chaffee Rec Rangers and Chaffee Rec Adopters programs continued for a second season in the summer of 2022. The number of Rangers doubled to eight full-time seasonal staff working for the U.S.Forest Service Salida Ranger District, Bureau of Land Management and Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Volunteer “Adopters” removed seven tons of trash and campfire ash during six cleanup events, and several dozen volunteers signed up to monitor and steward sections of public lands on an ongoing basis.
Information about project and program activities, as well as aggregated funding information, are provided in the report.