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Envision Chaffee County, which has led community planning and implementation since its inception in 2016, has announced that it has become an independent organization to continue building on the initiative’s momentum.

The RiB taskforce identified camping and recreation locations (in blue) throughout the county. (Per Envision Chaffee County)

A new board of directors set up a charter and will eventually file with the IRS for designation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A new fiscal sponsorship by the Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF) allows tax-deductible donations and provides grant management services to Envision.

“Envision continues to deliver and be fueled by this community,” Co-lead Cindy Williams said. “It has attracted statewide attention and locally, it has become a movement. In response, we are creating a sustainable organization to ensure its lasting impacts.”

Original Envision Core Team members included; Jeff Post, Dave Kelly, County Commissioner Greg Felt, who was also Envision Co-lead, and Williams, joined by CCCF founding board member Rick Hum.

“Envision developed the ability to find and highlight commonalities among us, even when people have completely different standpoints,” Post said. “We are now leaps and bounds ahead of other communities in a lot of efforts. I’m very proud of the results that have come out of Envision and think it will only continue to get better.”

Envision was originally convened by Chaffee County Commissioners. Its mission: to catalyze citizens to support the community and landscapes that make Chaffee special. Programs address clean water, small town vibrancy, recreation, friendly people, rural lands, healthy forests, and thriving wildlife.

Over the course of two years, it has advanced some major community action plan efforts, including:

  • Passage of Ballot Measure 1A to fund the Chaffee Common Ground program.
  • Approval of the Chaffee County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) update to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health.
  • Activation of the Chaffee County Community Foundation.
  • Formation of the Chaffee Green sustainability group, now a chapter of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA).
  • Development of the Envision Recreation in Balance (RiB) Task Force to create a countywide recreation management plan.

The Envision model includes extensive community partnerships. It was part of the formation of a Forest Health Council working on the wildfire plan; and one of a group of around 60 people from 30 different groups creating a management strategy in the Recreation in Balance program.

It partners with agricultural operators to sustain rural landscapes and the benefits of working lands. Its outreach function includes 1,500 citizens connected through email.

“These organized efforts are a big deal,” said Post. “We are facing many challenges, from droughts and higher winds, and economic changes due to the coronavirus, to continued recreation growth. We need smart planning and good management to keep the lands clean, respected, and safe.”