Envision – Agriculture & Development in Towns Action Team

Goal: The team will create community solutions, programs and plans so that in 2030 and beyond, Chaffee County will have a sustainable agricultural community and open rural landscapes, with growth concentrated in and around towns.

Context: In the Envision Chaffee Survey completed by more than 1,200 residents, 97% of community members indicated that working agriculture is important to our quality of life. These private lands support open views, wildlife, the economy and the community’s heritage, and help keep water rights local. However, one-third of the county’s working lands have been lost since 1982. Meanwhile, 62% of new single family homes were built in the unincorporated areas of the county in the last decade. Local ranchers identify multiple challenges to keep their lands in production: conflicts with growing population; restrictions in land use regulations; water rights protections; and workforce limitations. Protecting working lands and open spaces, and finding ways to focus new development in and around towns, is urgent and critical to maintain the vibe that makes Chaffee County special.

Community Resources: News articles and other resources to provide background and context for many of the issues being considered in action-planning are available below. If you have additional information that would be of value, please send it to Cindy Williams at envision@centralcoloradoconservancy.org.

If you are a team member or a citizen interested in the team’s work activities, including shared working documents, meeting agendas and additional planning information, please visit and bookmark the team’s Civic Canopy portal.

If you are concerned about houses replacing working lands in Chaffee County, check out this story from High Country News about the same issue in Missoula, where farmers and agricultural advocates are wondering how to maintain the area’s agricultural identity under growth pressures. Vermont has figured it out – find out how. This story was originally published at High Country News (hcn.org) on Jan. 15, 2018.


News Story: Envision studies county’s housing development outlook

Planners in the county building department have been busier than ever these past two years, approving permits for new homes and subdivisions faster than any other time in two decades. More than 450 new homes were approved in two years. About 80 new homes will go up east of Highway 285 between Salida and Buena Vista, in areas that some people think of as rural. Read the full story.

Local Ranchers’ Listening Session
Envision held a listening session on Dec. 19, 2017, that was attended by about 50 members of the local ranching community, to identify their goals for the future and challenges they face to keep their working agricultural lands in production. Read a report on the session.