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.