Jan. 28, 2021 — The Chaffee Common Ground Citizens Advisory Committee releases its second annual report today. In 2020, the program invested $450,753 in 10 local programs and projects and recommended an additional $580,442 for multi-year proposals.
Since voter passage of a dedicated county sales tax in 2018 for the Common Ground Fund, nearly $2.8 million in grants has been awarded to 15 local groups and partnerships for 18 programs and projects. Matching investments for these grants will bring nearly $9 million in value to the community by 2024.
“In just two years, the fund established to protect forests, waters and working lands from our dual threats of severe wildfire and impacts from growing population and visitation has delivered significant results,” Common Ground Citizens Advisory Committee Chair Cindy Williams said. “These results are accomplished through citizens, non-profit organizations, agencies and local governments working together in innovative and strategic ways.”
The 2020 report is the second installment of a commitment to accountability made during the 1-A ballot measure campaign that funded the program through a 0.25% sales tax. “Together, we are helping to ensure the future the ballot initiative promised,” Williams said.
Investments in forest health and wildfire resiliency include two community fuel breaks and support for Chaffee Chips, a wood slash removal and chipping service. These programs advance implementation of the county Community Wildfire Protection Plan that was updated in 2020. Through the plan, the Envision Forest Health Council is working to complete 30,000 acres of forest mitigation work by 2030 on both public and private lands, and is leveraging Common Ground funds to accomplish the goal, Williams said.
Williams said Common Ground programs also are taking shape in recreation management, as user groups, non-profit organizations, agencies and governments have worked collaboratively to deliver on-the-ground success toward the community goal of maintaining exceptional outdoor experiences while protecting natural resources and the economic benefits of recreation. Examples include better signs, restrooms, dispersed campsite containment and public lands restoration.
Williams said that collaboration also is at the cornerstone of three conservation easements that will permanently preserve more than 2,000 acres of some of the valley’s key agricultural lands and views.
The Citizens Advisory Committee oversees the grant process and makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners, which approves funding. Project and program activities and funding information is provided in the annual report.