The Chaffee Recreation Council is offering an opportunity for the public to review elements of the new Chaffee Rec Plan, beginning today on the Envision Chaffee County website. The draft plan is the culmination of extensive work and feedback, as Chaffee residents became increasingly concerned about the overuse of the county’s beautiful natural resources, often described as ‘being loved to death.”
The plan’s goals are to protect natural resources, maintain exceptional outdoor experiences, and sustain the economic benefits of recreation tourism. Initiatives potentially include:
- Changes to camping opportunities, such as designating some dispersed camping areas
- Getting the right infrastructure, such as more restrooms
- Focusing development, like new trails near towns
- Protecting wildlife with habitat improvements and voluntary seasonal closures in sensitive areas
- Encouraging improved user behaviors and enforcing the rules
- Supporting rural landscapes as ranchers struggle with the costly impacts of recreation growth on their operations.
New programs gearing up this summer involve more boots on the ground to monitor and clean up the busiest dispersed camping areas by adding agency staff, volunteers, and fire protection through the county fire department.
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. Public review will be open until June 4.
Public outreach coordinator for Envision, Kim Marquis said “In the past, Envision’s planning initiatives attracted a lot of public meeting attendance, but we cannot host those due to the pandemic, so we devised a ‘map walk’ and input opportunities online.” She continued “The plan’s initiatives are described and e-mail links are provided to give feedback.”
A Community Information and Q&A session with Chaffee Rec Council members will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25. Those interested can request access information for the Zoom meeting at firstname.lastname@example.org. The session will be streamed live on Facebook.
“There has been a high level of interest in recreation planning as roughly 100 people participated in the task force that helped complete research, compile data, identify priority areas and make decisions during the planning process,” said Marquis. “A survey administered last fall was taken by about 3,800 people from 41 states,” she added.
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 a need to have healthy forests, waters, and wildlife in balance with outdoor recreation.
Envision Chaffee County is a visioning, planning, and implementation initiative that catalyzes citizens to support the community and landscapes that make Chaffee County special.