A new Chaffee Rec Adopters program that enables public lands stewardship begins this month.

Volunteers are needed to use a newly developed mobile app to inventory dispersed campsites at twice monthly meet-up and training events. Adopters also can inventory sites on their own and take actions in areas important to them, once they receive a short training.

“Volunteers will directly contribute to healthier lands by documenting campsite locations and optionally picking up trash, fixing campsite containment fences and poorly built campfire rings as they provide more presence in our beautiful outdoors,” said Dominique Naccarato, executive director of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, a program partner.

Volunteers use the Survey123-Campsite Collector App developed for Chaffee County to monitor and record issues for land managers. A “data blitz” beginning on Tuesday, July 13 will continue through the fall on a twice monthly basis to collect information on thousands of campsites in the county. Those interested in participating see sign-up information below.

Volunteers also record their stewardship work in the app and can adopt dispersed camping areas, similar to the U.S. Forest Service’s national Adopt-A-Trail program.

“Local volunteers are becoming incredibly motivated, and have provided the equivalent of eight full-time recreation positions in recent years,” Naccarato said. “Our goal is to double the number of volunteers and enable them to have a four-fold impact through this program and the new mobile app.” 

Program partners include the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Colorado State Land Board and Envision Chaffee County. GARNA received a 2-year grant from Chaffee Common Ground to develop the new program.

Former river outfitter and long-time Buena Vista resident Joe Greiner is the new program manager. Greiner and his wife, Sue, sold their Wilderness Aware Rafting business in 2020 and, after a short retirement, Joe accepted the position leading Chaffee Rec Adopters activities and events. 

“Our focus this summer is to collect data at all of the dispersed campsites in the county, which we estimate at several thousand,” Greiner said. “We will also collaborate with the new Rangers to enhance the outdoor experience for users by minimizing resource impacts.”

Chaffee Rec Rangers is a new seasonal program led by the U.S. Forest Service Salida Ranger District to complete regular patrols of popular dispersed camping areas, identify and remedy issues and focus on wildfire prevention.

For more info, email Joe at adopters@envisionchaffeecounty.org or sign up to volunteer through VIA Chaffee at www.viachaffee.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=122898

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