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.