Envision – Healthy Landscapes & Recreation Action Team

Goal: The team will create community solutions, programs and plans so that in 2030 and beyond, Chaffee County will have healthy forests, waters and wildlife maintained in balance with outdoor recreation.

Context: More than 1,200 Chaffee County citizens surveyed indicated that the thing they love most is the county’s forested landscapes, clean waters, wildlife and amazing outdoor recreation. Unfortunately, these resources received some of the lowest grades in the Community Vision Report Card. Forest health is declining — an area of timber four times the size of Browns Canyon National Monument died and then browned in the past two years due to beetle infestations — and wildlife populations are declining. Outdoor recreational use is rapidly increasing. This activity by visitors drives part of the local economy and is a boon to local businesses. However, the community is doing little to care for the recreational assets and to make our great outdoor experiences sustainable. Collaborative and creative solutions between the community and government agencies are needed so that we can continue to say, “Chaffee County — Now THIS is Colorado!”

Community Resources:  News articles and additional resources to provide background and context for many of the issues under consideration 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.

Join the Conversation!
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.


Wildfire a looming threat to Chaffee County’s way of life
It’s not a question of if a wildfire will burn in Chaffee County but a question of when, according to a 2016 report by the Colorado State Forest Service, an agency charged with helping homeowners prepare for a wildfire. Colorado has seen a 400% increase in acres burned by wildfire since the 1990s. Widespread insect infestations have killed off wide swaths of the state’s forests and while residents can’t see it yet, the situation is no different in Chaffee County. Read the full story.

 

Are area neighborhoods prepared for a large fire?
The Salida Field Office of the Colorado State Forest Service has assessed 1,079 properties for wildfire risk — roughly 19% of homes in unincorporated areas of the county. Of those, 40% have high or very high risk and so far, only 13% are known to have been treated by landowners to mitigate risk. Read the full story.

 

Recreation heydey brings more people to public lands
Outdoor recreation is one of Chaffee County’s hottest meal tickets but what hiking, biking, off-roading and fishing is doing to pubic lands remains largely unknown. Up to 110,000 hikers bag 14ers every year; 230 summited Huron in 1 day last summer. Read the full story.