The Chaffee Common Ground 0.25 percent county sales tax has garnered $387,806 to date, and the first grant cycle is expected to open in October.

Chaffee Common Ground, which voters approved in November, allocates money from the tax to conservation-based efforts.

About 20 area residents are meeting biweekly to develop grant criteria to determine how the revenue is spent, according to a press release.

That group is led by a seven-person Citizens Advisory Committee, which consists of Chair Cindy Williams, Vice Chair Rick Hum, Secretary Patti Arthur, Michael Hannigan, Ben Lenth, Brinkley Messick and Andrew Richardson. County Commissioner Greg Felt is the liaison to the committee.

The committee’s function is to make recommendations to the county commissioners.

“Applicants (for grant money) will be asked to describe how their proposals preserve multiple community values such as scenic views, wildlife habitat or water quality, or how it helps in agricultural sustainability or promotes forest health and community wildfire resistance,” Hum said.

To avoid making subjective decisions about spending the grant money, the committee will score the applications using a rubric, a guide listing specific criteria for scoring.

Hum said the rubric outlines what strong responses to the criteria would be, so someone evaluating an application doesn’t have to decide whether a response is strong or weak – they can just go by the rubric.

The scoring rubric will assign points for specific community values such as forest mitigation work that reduces wildfire danger while also protecting drinking water supplies from the aftereffects of a large fire.

“Such a proposal would rank higher than one that would not support such an important community asset,” Hum said.

Hum said no final decisions have been made so far, and Envision Chaffee County members are still developing the systems they’re going to use.

The meetings are held at 104 Crestone Ave. and are open to the public. For more information about meetings, visit chaffeecommonground.org/events.

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