Residents seeking to understand the number and extent of dispersed campsites in Chaffee County are invited to join a Community Data Collection Day on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Volunteers will team up with local guides who are trained to use the Recreation Impacts Monitoring System — a smartphone application developed by the Colorado Mountain Club that geotags on-the-ground impacts to natural resources and outdoor experiences in Chaffee County.

During the Community Data Collection Day hosted by Envision Chaffee County, volunteers will go to popular areas such as Fooses Creek near Salida and 14er trailheads near Buena Vista. 

Data to be recorded includes the size of campsites, number of campfire rings, cut tree limbs used for campfires, evidence of human waste such as TP “flowers,” trash, soil erosion and more. RIMS includes a trails component and also records user numbers such as vehicles, people and dogs at trailheads and on trails.

In the Salida area, meet at 9:30 a.m. at the U.S. Forest Service office at 5575 Cleora Rd., where multiple teams will organize and disperse.

In the Buena Vista area, meet at 8 a.m. at the North Cottonwood Creek trailhead to collect data in the Horn Fork Basin and surrounding area with business owner Chuck Cichowitz and the Noah’s Ark staff.

In the Nathrop area, meet at 9:30 a.m. at the main Mesa Antero subdivision gate to collect data in the Browns Creek and Raspberry Gulch areas with Central Colorado Conservancy watershed restoration specialist Buffy Lenth.

Volunteers should bring water, sunscreen and a snack and be ready to walk around or hike outside for half the day. 

Collected data will be shared with land management agencies and in a report to the community. Envision Recreation in Balance teams will use the data to create a list of Rapid Response Projects — work projects that will fix impacted areas of concern — and to develop a countywide recreation management plan.

Recreation in Balance is one of 40 citizen-led initiatives developed by the Envision Chaffee County community visioning and planning effort. The program goal is to create community-driven, collaborative solutions to manage expanding recreation use and associated impacts to natural resources such as watershed health. 

Contact envision@centralcoloradoconservancy.org for more information.

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