One Colorado county has approved an ordinance that will allow private-land camping, giving rural landowners in Chaffee County a chance to host commercial camping on their properties. The operations would be on the smaller side, but it offers the landowners a simple pathway through the process and a chance at new revenue streams. According to a press release, the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners have opened the door to a modern version of agritourism, all while giving farmers and ranchers a way to make more money off their land in tough economic times.
The ordinance came through a partnership between farmers, ranchers, the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation, and Hipcamp to increase tourism and grow agritourism in the area.
"This is how the government is supposed to work - with businesses, landowners, and the public sector coming together to create innovative solutions to community needs," said Executive Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation Jake Rishavy in the press release. "The EDC is proud to have supported this effort to build new financial opportunities for landowners while protecting the environment and our community values. I hope this will serve as a model for other counties across Colorado and the nation on how to support rural communities in the face of growing interest in outdoor recreation."
Hipcamp, formed in 2013, is a company dedicated to booking outdoor stays for tent camping, RVs, glamping, treehouses, and cabins.
Colorado farmers and ranchers have felt the increasing pressure of drought, high production costs, and low commodity prices. The ordinance will allow them to access desperately needed revenue and funnel new life into their land. Since 2019, Hipcamp listings have increased by 265% in the state, and with more listings, there is an increase in demand.
"It's never been harder to make a living off the land," said Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker. "If we want to protect our agricultural and rural heritage in Chaffee, we must be creative. Expanding economic opportunities for rural landowners in Chaffee by allowing for well-regulated, small-scale private land camping is a huge win for our community. This first-of-its-kind land use will reduce pressure on public lands, create new revenue streams for the ag community, and support our outdoor recreation economy. I'm proud to have worked with the many stakeholders who collaborated to make it a reality."
Private camping has allowed landowners to keep their properties, preserve their lifestyles and livelihoods, and continue their family legacies.
"Chaffee County Cattlemen's Association is very grateful for the attention and care that has been placed on the concerns and needs of working Ag producers via this ordinance," said the President of the Chaffee County Cattlemen's Association, Madison Everett-Martinez. "Our members are oftentimes multigenerational ranchers who are simply looking to continue their business and lifestyle in a quickly changing community. We are appreciative of the support from many stakeholders in helping us reach this goal."
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