Recreation program helps volunteers steward public lands

A new Chaffee Rec Adopters program that enables public lands stewardship began in 2021 with support from Chaffee Common Ground. Volunteers use a mobile app to inventory dispersed campsites and take actions in areas important to them.

“Volunteers are directly contributing to healthier lands by documenting campsite locations and picking up trash, fixing campsite containment fences and poorly built campfire rings as they provide more presence in our beautiful outdoors,” said Dominique Naccarato, executive director of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), a program partner.

The Survey123-Campsite Collector App was developed for Chaffee County to monitor and record issues for land managers. Stewardship work is also recorded and users can adopt camping areas, similar to the U.S. Forest Service’s national Adopt-A-Trail program.

“Local volunteers are becoming incredibly motivated, and have provided the equivalent of eight full-time recreation positions in recent years,” Naccarato said. “Our goal is to double the number of volunteers and enable them to have a four-fold impact through this program and the new mobile app.” 

Program partners include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Colorado State Land Board and Envision Chaffee County. GARNA received a two-year grant from Common Ground to help develop the program.

In 2021, volunteers logged 1,100 surveys by mid-summer, Program Manager Joe Greiner said. “We also collaborated with the new Rangers to enhance the outdoor experience for users by minimizing resource impacts,” he said.

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