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A five-year community-driven plan focuses on managing the impacts of growing outdoor use

Over the past year, the Chaffee Recreation Council has been at work developing a recreation plan to address the concerns of residents regarding the use (and overuse) of the county’s precious natural outdoor assets. Following comments from the public during municipal meetings that they need more time to review the draft Chaffee Recreation Plan, the plan will now be available for public feedback until June 20.

The Chaffee Rec Plan is a result of the 2017 Envision Chaffee County planning initiative that outlined four community visions to achieve in the future, including having healthy forests, waters, and wildlife in balance with outdoor recreation. The plan’s goals are to protect natural resources, maintain exceptional outdoor experiences, and sustain the economic benefits of recreation tourism.

Image by Jenelle Hayes, Courtesy of Unsplash.

Initiatives potentially include:

  • Changes to camping opportunities, such as designating some dispersed camping areas
  • Getting the right infrastructure, such as more restrooms
  • Focusing new recreation development near towns
  • Protecting wildlife with habitat improvements and enforcement of legal seasonal closures
  • Encouraging improved user behaviors and enforcing the rules
  • Supporting rural landscapes as ranchers struggle with the costly impacts of recreation growth on their operations.

Recreation was estimated to be growing at an average of 13 percent a year before the pandemic, according to visitor spending data from the Colorado Tourism Office. That has increased in the past year and is expected to continue this summer. The five-year Chaffee Rec Plan was developed by the Rec Council and a task force of outdoor user group representatives and citizens to manage the impacts of growing outdoor use, such as trashed campsites.

The Chaffee Recreation Council offers the opportunity for the public to review elements of the plan and provide comments on the Envision Chaffee County website. Go to envisionchaffeecounty.org and click on the orange banner at the top of the homepage to learn about the plan and provide feedback.

The opportunity opened on May 21 and will remain open through June 20 to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, said Envision Outreach Coordinator Kim Marquis. The extension to a total of 30 days for feedback is in response to requests for more time.

Featured image: A competitor keeps focus in the Numbers Kayak Race. Photo courtesy of Cloud Level Media.