Chaffee County Trails System and Conservation Plan to encompass trailheads, trail corridors, parking, restrooms and more
A coalition of local leaders in outdoor recreation has come together to develop a Chaffee County Trails System and Conservation Plan. The goal is to create a community-driven strategic plan for conserving natural resources while also providing a spectrum of sustainable, trail-based outdoor recreation experiences across all lands countywide.
The coalition members are Salida Mountain Trails (SMT); Buena Vista Singletrack Coalition (BVSC); National Forest Foundation (NFF); Envision Chaffee County; and a representative for outfitters and guides.
The plan will encompass the entire trails system, including trailheads, trail corridors and infrastructure like parking, restrooms and pet waste stations. The planning process will first assess and prioritize improvements to the 400 miles of current, designated trails in Chaffee County. From there, it will identify opportunities for new trails and related infrastructure to address growth in outdoor recreation and visitation in ways that retain the exceptional forests, waters and wildlife that make Chaffee County such a special place to live and visit.
“This collaborative process will result in a remarkable trail network right-sized to our community,” said SMT Executive Director Jon Terbush. “By holistically planning new trails and improvements to existing ones, we can ensure the entire system will be sustainably managed to improve user experience and protect natural resource health.”
The process will coordinate with federal land management agencies and local governments, and be driven by community input. Coalition partners will convene a working group of stakeholders and provide opportunities for public comment throughout the process. To be kept informed of the planning process, send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“BVSC sees the plan as an opportunity and the means to cooperatively connect existing trails, which will enable non-motorized exploration of Chaffee County while minimizing impacts to agricultural lands and wildlife,” said BVSC Board Chair Kelly Collins.
Coalition partners provided seed money to launch the effort, and are now securing additional funding to complete the multi-year planning process.
Chaffee Recreation Council Member Chuck Cichowitz, a long-time backcountry outfitter in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, will represent outfitters and guides on the partnership.
Once completed, the Trails System and Conservation Plan is expected to be added to the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan, which was developed by the Envision Recreation in Balance program and approved by the County Planning Commission in 2021.