Recreation impacts a hot topic

Citizens are mapping and monitoring the county’s recreation system and creating a plan to manage it sustainably in the future.

Citizens, business owners, user-group reps, land management agency personnel and many others are working to map and monitor the county’s recreation system under a community plan to manage it sustainably in the future.

“There’s a lot of energy and ownership around the recreation impacts going on, including a desired outcome for resource protection,” said Chaffee Rec Council Member Chuck Cichowitz, a business owner.

The program includes a mobile app that records campfire rings, human waste, trash and sedimentation at popular dispersed camping areas. Hundreds of volunteers have collected info on their cellphones, helping to determine where work needs to take place to address problem areas.

Recreation in Balance leadership partners include the U.S. Forest Service, Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and Envision Chaffee County, working with dozens of community members to maintain healthy public lands, quality user experiences and the economic benefits of our tourism economy. The Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan developed through the program uses computer modeling techniques as well as community outreach to create the long-term management strategy included in the County Comprehensive Plan.

Common Ground revenues support this work, such as new visitor education and on-the-ground stewardship. $80K was awarded to Southwest Conservation Corps in 2020 and 2021 to thin high-density areas of lodgepole pine, construct containment fencing around dispersed campsites, dismantle fire-rings, and close off sensitive areas to allow for revegetation.

Read more Stories of Impact from Chaffee Common Ground.