July 17, 2020
Chaffee County Planning and Zoning Commission
104 Crestone Avenue
P.O. Box 699
Salida, Colorado 81201
RE: Aspire Tours Limited Impact Review
I am writing on behalf of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CPC-TU) to urge you to reject the application by Aspire Tours to build rental cabins, a campground and commercial rafting outfitter post, at the end of County Road 190.
The property is zoned for agricultural use, which does not include commercial development. The applicant is proposing commercial development of a rafting and camping facility within a riparian zone. This seems to be a clear violation of zoning regulations and is incompatible with the intended use of the area. This proposed development does not align with what county citizens wish to protect with our recently adopted Envision guidelines. Centerpiece to Envision’s mission is to keep agricultural land use maintained and preserved.
Aspire Tours stated in their application that they would keep the trees and bushes in the riparian area. Sadly, they have already been cut down. This does not offer much confidence in other promises they have made in their application, as to maintaining the character of the area. We are concerned that the increased use by guests and staff will further degrade the banks, increasing soil erosion thus impacting the river.
Riparian areas, more than any other kind of areas, are heavily used by wildlife. This area is known to be a migration corridor for pronghorns. Colorado Parks and Wildlife concerns have not been addressed. The applicant will likely be required to install fencing to keep bears from food and garbage. This fencing, in addition to the removal of trees and bushes, will negatively impact wildlife even more. Aspire also plans to build trails to let their clients access the river, which will further impact migrating wildlife, and contribute to more riparian erosion and damage.
The application lacks detail about the wastewater treatment system. An engineered plan designed for heavy use by a commercial operation must be a requirement in the consideration for approval. We are concerned of any E Coli contamination to the river system, likely to occur during peak tourist season which coincides with lower river flows.
The destruction of the riparian zone, the soil erosion, and degradation of water quality impacts would negatively affect fish populations.
The ditch company is concerned about any tents or large materials blowing into the ditch and causing blockages. We are similarly concerned about loose trash being blown or thrown into the river, as we have firsthand reports of this being a common event at the private campground just upstream of Fisherman’s Bridge.
We agree with the serious concerns of local residents that, if approved, this first development on the east side of the river between Fisherman’s Bridge and Big Bend will set a precedent for additional development there. Also, it would set a precedent for companies purchasing agricultural-zoned land and then developing it commercially. Commercial growth along this area will negatively impact the experience for boaters and anglers at this already heavily used stretch of the river.
We strongly urge you to reject the Aspire Tours application. Thank you for your consideration.
Keith Krebs, Chapter President