Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
TABLE OF CONTENTS VISION STATEMENT ………………………………………………………………………...2 SECTION I- GOALS, OBJECTIVES …………………………………………………………3 Demographics ……………………………………………………………………………..8 Sub-Area Descriptions …………………………………………………………………...10 SECTION II – PUBLIC INPUTS ……………………………………………………………15 Past Planning Efforts …………………………………………………………………….15 2008 Public Process ……………………………………………………………………...18 SECTION III – PLANNING SUSTAINABILITY …………………………………………...22 SECTION IV – NATURAL ELEMENTS ……………………………………………………25 Agricultural Land ………………………………………………………………………...26 Water ……………………………………………………………………………………..28 Wildlife/Wetlands….……………………………………………………………………..29 Conservation Areas/Geologic Features …………………………………………………..33 Steep Slope and Ridgeline Development ………………………………………………...34 Wildfire …………………………………………………………………………………..34 Night Sky Preservation…………………………………………………………………...34 SECTION V – BUILT ELEMENTS …………………………………………………………37 Patterns for Development ………………………………………………………………...38 Energy & Green Building ………………………………………………………………..39 Housing …………………………………………………………………………………..44 Transportation ……………………………………………………………………………47 Public Facilities …………………………………………………………………………..52 SECTION VI – SOCIO-ECONOMIC ELEMENTS …............................................................57 Economic Development ………………………………………………………………….57 Employment ……………………………………………………………………………...59 Renewable Energy Development ………………………………………………………...64 Tourism …………………………………………………………………………………..65 Resource Extraction and Development …………………………………………………..68 Impact Fees ………………………………………………………………………………68 Social ……………………………………………………………………………………..71 Appendixes


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
The Saguache County Master Plan guides the conservation and development of the unincorporated portions of Saguache County. Colorado law requires every city and county in the state to prepare and adopt a Master plan for the physical development of the jurisdiction. While the law establishes specific requirements for the contents of the general plan, within that framework each community has the latitude to design its own future. Through extensive public participation, many individual residents from different parts of the County and walks of life have contributed to the creation of this document.

Vision Statement
The Saguache County Master Plan is a practical statement of the aspirations of the community of Saguache County citizens, to prepare for and shape the course of growth and development to protect and enhance the quality of life in Saguache County for ourselves and future generations. It is understood that an effective plan must evolve as circumstances change and new possibilities emerge. This Plan is designed to find the most appropriate place for those new possibilities while protecting the qualities and attributes of the County that make living here a treasured experience for those who have chosen to live here

What Is a Master Plan and What Does It Mean?

The Master Planning Process is the cornerstone for a
community to define land use patterns and guide development-related public policy into the future. Although planning statutes use the terms “master plan” and “Comp plan” without distinction, they are not identical products. Colorado law requires every city and county in the state to prepare and adopt a Master long-range general plan for the physical development of the jurisdiction. However Master planning in Colorado generally includes planning for social and economic factors beyond the traditional land use plan. This relative flexibility allows the County to transcend traditional physical growth policies, and broaden the impact of the Master plan to include issues that reach beyond its physical development. The Saguache County Master Plan (SCMP) covers all of Saguache County except the area covered by the Crestone-Baca Sub-area Master Plan and the incorporated towns of Bonanza, Center, Saguache, Moffat, Crestone and Hooper. The purpose of the Master Plan is to guide Planning Commission decisions, the adoption of land use regulations and aid the communities in developing in ways that reflect and perpetuate our core values.


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More specifically, the County is directed to develop a Master Plan for the general purpose of “guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the county . . . which in accordance with present and future needs and resources, will best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, or general welfare of the inhabitants, as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development, including such distribution of population and of the uses of land for urbanization, trade, industry, habitation, recreation, agriculture, forestry, and other purposes as will tend to create conditions favorable to health, safety, energy conservation, transportation, prosperity, civic activities, and recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities; will tend to reduce the wastes of physical, financial or human resources which result from either excessive congestion or excessive scattering of population; and will tend toward an efficient and economic utilization, conservation, and production of the supply of food and water and of drainage, sanitary, and other facilities and resources.” In preparing a Master Plan, the Planning Commission is directed to take careful and Master survey and studies of present conditions and future growth in the County, with due regard to the County’s relationship to the neighboring territories. (CRS 30-28-107) The relevant authorizing sections of the Colorado Revised Statutes are included as Appendix A.

Goals of the County Master Plan
1. Provide policy basis for modifying regulations and for development decisions. The Master Plan provides a framework and parameters for development while maintaining consistency and fairness. It holds decision-makers accountable to follow expressed community ideals. 2. Provide a basis for intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) The SCMP helps identify when and where intergovernmental agreements would benefit the community. By defining the County’s core values, it provides a foundation for common understanding and cooperation. 3. Provide basis for setting priorities and funding. The Plan can aid County officials in determining funding priorities by reflecting the preferences of their constituents.

The objectives of this Plan are to: • Establish land use and growth management policy to guide the general public, and government entities, in providing for future development that protects our rural character, and treasured natural, cultural, historic and economic resources.


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
• • • • • Preserve our rural lifestyle while connecting with our future by managing the pace, location and patterns of growth in Saguache County. Provide for individualism and fairness for property owners and businesses, while protecting public health, safety and welfare. Protect the quality of natural resources through good stewardship and mitigation planning and practices. Protect working agricultural lands through encouragement of conservation easements and continuing the right to ranch and farm in Saguache County. Provide for the availability of adequate public facilities and services, housing and transportation by requiring commensurate fiscal responsibility in association with new development. Define residential, commercial and industrial land use and development patterns. Consider transportation patterns and road services. Consider impacts of housing options. Consider impacts of development on administration, enforcement, emergency and social services.

• • • •

Foundations of the Master Plan
The Saguache County Master Plan was created upon the following tenets: 1. Planning is viewed as a proactive process. 2. Land use should be suitable for and compatible with the environmental characteristics of the site of the proposed development. 3. Natural and cultural resources shall be identified, conserved and protected. 4. The Master Plan shall support settlement patterns that reflect the realities of living in Saguache County as described in the “Right to Ranch and Farm”. 5. Growth shall be encouraged in proximity of developed areas. 6. Open lands shall continue to be the defining feature of the landscape of Saguache County. 7. Adequate public facilities and services shall be provided concurrent with development (i.e. development impact fees). 8. Maximum intergovernmental cooperation is desirable for plan implementation.

9. The Master Plan and the implementing rules and regulations shall demonstrate consistent intent.

Orientation – Where is Saguache County?
Saguache County is located in south-central Colorado, about 170 miles southwest of Denver. The County is the largest in the San Luis Valley, covering 3168 square miles, and is separated into 2 distinct regions by the Continental Divide, with the majority of the County lying east of the divide and occupying the northern end of the San Luis Valley (see Figure 1). The resident population of Saguache County is


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
about 7,000. The Valley is bounded both east and west by mountains – the Sangre de Cristo range on the east and the San Juans on the west. The headwaters of the Rio Grande River are located in this valley, and parts of Saguache County lie atop one of the largest freshwater underground aquifers in the continental United States. The northwestern and northeastern portions of the County are part of the Colorado and Arkansas River Basins respectively, which are largely forested and agricultural land.

Historic Settlement Patterns
Early Exploration and Occupation The earliest known human occupation in Saguache County dates to 1100 A.D. and is evidenced by the remains of primitive stone shelters or lookouts at high elevations in the western part of the San Luis Valley. The Utes had long been the dominant culture by the time of the first permanent Spanish settlement. Spanish expeditions reached the San Luis Valley in the 1500s. Evidence of Spanish mining activity dating to the 1600’s can be found in the southeastern part of the county at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. The Carnero Creek drainage was also used by Indians as a route into the San Juan and La Garita mountains. Small groups of Utes commonly camped along Saguache Creek during their frequent journeys through the San Luis Valley. In the early 1800’s fur trappers often passed through the San Luis Valley on their way to the San Juan Mountains and Gunnison Valley, using the routes established by buffalo and used by the Utes. In the early 1740s, Mexico established land grants in the Valley, including the Trinchera, Baca Grande, and Sangre de Cristo. In 1848 the San Luis Valley became a territory of the United States through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


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Figure 1
The First Permanent Settlements The first permanent settlement in the County was by the Spanish near La Garita in the mid-1800’s. The first non-Spanish settlement in the region occurred in 1865, when soldiers discharged after the Civil War settled in the north of the valley, near present day Bonanza, as well as Villa Grove and Saguache. The Saguache County area boasted 304 residents in 1870. The first settlers homesteaded on 160 acre tracts granted to them under the federal government’s Homestead Act. Irrigated agriculture originated south of Saguache where natural arroyos were used to deliver agricultural water from Saguache Creek to farmland. Wheat was the principle crop. The grain was milled locally and transported over new toll roads on Poncha Pass and Cochetopa Pass to mining camps in the Colorado Mountains. As the farming industry grew and ranching began to develop in Saguache County, the need for organized government and local services grew. Saguache County was officially founded in 1866 from what was formerly part of Costilla County. In 1874 the town of Saguache was founded. Saguache became the


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
county seat and an important supply center for local ranches and farms, and prospectors who were beginning to explore the surrounding mountains. Mining Industry Although agriculture has been the most constant economic activity over the years, mining has played a tremendous “boom and bust” role in the County’s development history. By the 1870’s, interest in mineral exploration in Saguache County was growing. Discoveries of gold and silver deposits were frequently found in the Sangre de Cristo and the San Juan Mountains. Mining camps would spring up overnight as excitement surrounded each new discovery. Often, the camps would be abandoned after just a few months when veins would “play out” or the price of ore would drop. More permanent settlements were established at Rito Alto Creek, San Isabel Creek, Cotton Creek and other locations along the eastern edge of the valley. These small communities typically had a post office, general store, boarding house, and tavern supported by one hundred to two hundred residents. The population of Duncan is reported to have reached 4000 in 1892 before residents were forced to leave by the owners of the Baca Grant, on which the town and mines were illegally located. The residents of Duncan relocated at the town of Liberty, south of the Baca Grant, but the new town never fully developed, as the mines were not very successful. As the mining industry continued its boom/bust cycle, most of the small communities were abandoned and faded away. The first large mineral discoveries with lasting effects were made at Bonanza and Orient Mining Districts in the 1880s. Numerous silver strikes in the Bonanza area resulted in the establishment of several mining camps and mills near present day Bonanza. The camps in the Bonanza area supported such amenities as a local brewery, billiard hall, bowling alley, and hotels. During its heyday in the 1880’s the town of Bonanza had a population of 1500 and was renowned for its thirty-six saloons and seven dance halls. Discovery of iron ore at the Orient Mine east of Villa Grove resulted in a mining camp of 400 people. The Orient Mine supplied the Colorado Coal and Iron Company’s, later changed to CF&I Pueblo steel mills. Although the mining industry continued to cycle, activity at Bonanza and Orient remained relatively stable through the early 1900’s. With completion of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway from Salida to Alamosa in the 1880’s, Villa Grove became a thriving community, functioning as a supply center for the surrounding mines. The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad also completed a line to the Gunnison Valley crossing the Continental Divide at Marshall Pass. The Sargents depot on the west side of Marshall Pass served as a major refueling and maintenance stop for the railroad. The town of Sargents (originally known as Marshalltown) was established in the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s ore from Bonanza was transported by tramway and loaded on the railroad at Shirley, near the Marshall Pass summit. The Marshall Pass railroad route proved to be too difficult to maintain in the winter and was eventually removed. The old water tower and remains of maintenance buildings and coal chutes can still be seen in Sargents. Gold was discovered near Crestone in 1880 and again in 1892. These strikes led to growth of a permanent settlement. When a railroad spur reached Crestone in 1900,


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
the town became the principal mining community on the east side of the San Luis Valley. Mineral exploration spread into the western portion of the county following termination of the Los Pinos Indian Agency and Reservation and relocation of a local band of Ute Indians to the Uncomphagre Plateau near Montrose, Colorado. Iris, in the far northwestern part of the county, and Sky City, in the La Garita Mountains, were thriving mining camps near the turn of the century. The Esperanza Mine in Biedall Canyon led to growth of the La Garita area during the same period. These mining activities were responsible for the County’s growth in population. After1930 the County’s population declined steadily until around 1970, when US Census data recorded a population of 3827. By 1987, there were 4785 residents, but then the next couple of years saw a decline. The population returns to the 1987 population levels in 1992.

Demographic Basics:
Currently some areas of the County are growing relatively fast, while others have declined slightly. The Town of Crestone, for example, grew 68% between 2000-2006, and population growth in the unincorporated portion of the County was 26% in the same period. It is likely that a significant portion of that growth took place in the Baca Grande subdivision, adjacent to Crestone. In contrast, the towns of Moffat, Center and Saguache all lost population (an average of 4.3%) during the same period. The percentage of the population living in the unincorporated part of the County increased from 47% to 53% in just 6 years. According to the Colorado Dept of Local Affairs, population growth in recent years is 44% “natural” (i.e. births minus deaths) and 56% the result of net migration. Information concerning current data is available from the SLV Rural Development Group located in Alamosa, CO.

Saguache County sub-area character descriptions
Crestone-Baca Area Crestone was officially established on November 4, 1880 after the discovery of gold in Burnt Gulch, east of the town, in 1879. Mining and ranching fueled the early economy of the town. The Town of Crestone was incorporated on March 29, 1901. The Town declined with the mining industry between 1930-1970. The Crestone-Baca Sub-Area has its own Master Plan and Planning Commission, so while the Baca subdivision is unincorporated, it is not covered under this Plan. Villa Grove/Bonanza Area Villa Grove is an unincorporated community located on Highway 285 in the northern part of the County. It provides tourist-related services for travelers, as well as a hub for the surrounding areas, with the Post Office and other services. Bonanza is an


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009
incorporated town that grew up around the mining activities located about 15 miles west of Villa Grove. The town is struggling with a very small population that can no longer support a town board and related government services. Moffat/ Hooper Area Moffat and Hooper are both incorporated towns located along CO Highway 17. Hooper sits on the Saguache/Alamosa County line and is mostly located in Alamosa County. The A hot water well swimming pool is located northeast of Hooper Moffat has a preK-12 school including other small businesses. The Town of Moffat has incorporated large agricultural areas within its limits. Saguache Area The Town of Saguache was designated the county seat in 1866 when Saguache County was created from the northern part of Costilla County. It is located at the junction of US 285 and CO 114. Its history is significant, and in 2009 4th Street business district was listed on Colorado’s list of most endangered historic places. A revitalization project is underway. The Town of Saguache is surrounded by ranch, agricultural and private lands. Saguache has a preK-12 school including other small businesses. Cochetopa /Sargents Area Sargents is an unincorporated community located on Highway 50 at the west base of Monarch Pass. It provides limited services for travelers. There are several subdivisions and 35-acre developments located on the west side of the continental divide, as well as some large ranches. The Cochetopa region is a ranching area that follows Highway 114 northwest toward Gunnison. This area is primarily national forest, and largely undeveloped. Center/La Garita Area Center is an incorporated town that lies partly in Saguache County and partly in Rio Grande County. It has the largest population of the towns in Saguache County. Farms on both sides of the county line surround it, and agricultural processing plants, including some of the largest organic production in the country are located here. Center has a commercial district with several shops and services, as well as a County facility building. A railroad spur is located on the east side of Center. Center has a preK-12 school including a Head Start along with other small businesses. • • • • Saguache County has many historic locations: Saguache County Museum Marshall Pass Old Indian Agency Town Site of Iris and several different old mining towns


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• • • • • Town of Sargents Gold, Silver, and Uranium Mining sites Stock Drives and dipping vat locations Fort sites Toll Roads

Several Places of Interest/Recreation: Fishing and Hunting Razor Creek Dome Town of Sargents San Luis Peak (14er) Saguache Park Old Cochetopa Pass Dome lakes Forest Service/BLM Penitente Canyon McDonough Reservoir Snyder Ranch/DOW Easement Petroglyphs Needle Creek Reservoir Saguache Creek Corridor Easement Crystal Mine Cochetopa Dome Water Fowl viewing Wagon Wheel Tracks More information for the various sub-areas can be found at the Saguache County Tourism website www.saguachetourism.com in the Saguache County Visitors Guide and the Saguache County Resource Guide and Business Directory.

Land Ownership and Use
Saguache County County 109 ASD 80 Total land area (Square Miles) 3,168 Total land area (Acres) 2,027,724 2007 Census of Agriculture Number of farms and ranches (Number) 242 Land in farms and ranches (Acres) 287,272 Average size of farms/ranch (Acres) 1,187 Median size farm/ranch (Acres) 400 Average value of land and buildings (Dollars) 1,550,459 Total cropland (Acres) 118,229 Irrigated Land (Acres) 103,292 Market value of ag products sold ($1,000) 91,456 All crops sold ($1,000) 78,536 All livestock sold ($1,000) 12,920 Total farm production expenses ($1,000)1/ 69,505 Net cash return from agricultural sales ($1,000) 25,579 Average age of farm/ranch operator (Years) 56.8 Acres 2008 crops Harvested Yield Unit Production Barley 12,500 128.0 Bu. 1,600,000 Corn for Grain … … Bu. … Dry Beans … … Cwt. … Hay, alfalfa 21,000 3.60 Tons 76,000 Hay, other 44,300 1.15 Tons 52,000 Sorghum, grain … … Bu. … Sugarbeets … … Tons … Sunflowers, all … … Lbs. … Wheat, all 11,400 94.0 Bu. 1,070,000 January 1, 2009 Inventory All cattle and calves Beef cows and heifers that have calved Milk Cows *Waste land is defined as the lowest classification of grazing Number 18,500 12,000 0 land.


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Building on Past Planning Efforts
The original County Master Plan (1974) contained a good historic base upon which a new plan could be built. Interests and concerns that remain current today include: • A strong resident focus on the lifestyle and natural environment that characterize life here. • Recreation oriented subdivisions and land speculation converting acres from agriculture to residential use. • While per capita income has risen, Saguache County still is economically challenged. • The desire to attract/promote “value-added” manufacturing enterprises to utilize local products. The philosophy in 1974 for planning and land use regulation in Saguache County was developed and based on the following ideas: 1. Landownership in a free society carries with it certain inherent rights and responsibilities. Landowners have a right to use their property in a manner which does not cause harm to adjacent lands or the general public. Therefore, land use policies and regulations should be developed only to the extent necessary to prevent harm or interference with the rights and freedoms of residents of Saguache County. 2. Planning and land use regulation is a democratic process. Therefore, land use decisions and policy making should be carried out in a transparent manner and with great integrity. Citizen input should be actively sought in reviewing or adopting plans, policies, and regulations. 3. The impacts of land use often extend across jurisdictional borders. Therefore, intergovernmental and regional cooperation in planning and land use regulation should be encouraged.

Summary of Public Involvement
As this Plan update has been underway for some years, there have been numerous rounds of community inputs, including a survey, community forums in all areas of the County, and facilitated public processes. The Core Values developed by the 2006 process compiled by Sonoran Institute are summarized on the following pages:


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Saguache County Vision and Citizen Recommendations for Action
Community Visioning Process
During the fall of 2006, citizens came together • What do you treasure about your community? for five community meetings. These public • What do you want to see different or change forums were held in Sargents, Center, Villa in the future? Grove, Moffat/Hooper, and Saguache. The meetings were organized by Saguache County • What do you think is most important for the County to focus on in the next 5 years? to inform county residents of the master plan’s purpose and process as well to gather input to What follows is a summary of those create a community wide vision. meetings and a county vision for the community to build a collaborative and successful future. Residents and:

Residents and stakeholders of Saguache County treasure: • Rural community character • Quality of life • The wide open spaces, mountains, spectacular views, and awesome natural beauty of the San Luis Valley • The people and strong sense of community • The diversity of people, cultures, occupations, and experiences • The natural resources and environment • Presence of wildlife • Access to recreation and public lands • Agricultural activity and ability to buy local produce • Freedom to act responsibly as individuals Treasured Places • Mountains • Foothills and hillsides • Wetlands and riparian areas • Wildlife habitat and corridors • Irrigated land with water rights • Environmentally sensitive areas • Cochetopa Pass • Poncha Pass • Hot Springs • Crystal Hills Area • Villa Grove • NE of Bonanza and Saguache • Oklahoma Lane • Scenic highway corridors like 17, 58EE and G, 285 South between Saguache and La Garita

Issues and Desired Changes
Manage Growth • Reduce ranchette development • Develop guidelines for natural • resources protections Building codes

Zoning and development standards


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• Create a growth plan that is not too restrictive Growth pays its own way Improve quality of development • • • Recruit new businesses Increase jobs and incomes Opportunities for families, youth, and revitalization • • Better place to live More local involvement in decision making Increase sense of community Respect diversity Improve politics

• •

• • •

Economic Development • Compatible economic development • Recreation based businesses • Support local agriculture and small businesses • More local services • Alternative energy development

Public Safety and Infrastructure • Improve public safety with respect to drugs, fire safety, and roads • Improve roads • Increase multimodal transportation options Protect Open Space No Change Build Community

Beautify and Clean-up community Protect Natural Resources and Wildlife Preserve Agriculture and Promote More Organic Agriculture Promote Affordable Housing Increase Community Sustainability Lower Taxes Improve Education

Community Vision Value Statement
Residents and Stakeholders in Saguache County share common values that are the foundation to creating a desirable future together. They value their high quality of life with dark and starry night skies: peace, quiet and solitude; and the spectacular views created by wide open spaces surrounded by beautiful mountains. Access to public lands for outdoor recreation and activities is vitally important to resident’s high quality of life. They value the high quality of the natural resources and unpolluted environment of the region. They want to maintain the fresh air, clean water, and abundance of wildlife present today into the future. Particular attention ought to be paid to protecting the mountains and foothills; environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands and riparian areas and wildlife habitat and corridors; and farm and ranch lands especially irrigated lands with water rights. Residents of Saguache love their rural community character defined by small towns surrounded by open lands. The County is safe, uncrowded, and slow paced. Agriculture, both livestock and locally grown produce, is an important component of that rural lifestyle and residents want to maintain its viability.


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Residents also treasure the strong sense of community and diversity of the people who live in Saguache County. People are known to be friendly, neighborly, and help each other out. There is a wide diversity of people, ideas, culture and experience for building and incredible place to live. They also treasure the freedom to act individually and intelligently as individuals and to choose what they feel is best with the least amount of interference. Saguache however is a microcosm of the changes occurring throughout the inter-mountain West. The economy of the area has been based on traditional industries that are how struggling to provide enough of an economic engine for the local population. The new economy is a one where the value of the land is based not on what comes out of the land (timber, ore, fodder, food). But instead on what can go on the land (houses). Small parts of the County are beginning to feel the pressures of residential development and residents are worried that growth, especially rural ranchettes, will destroy the unique character of Saguache and thus what makes it special. Some are asking for tighter controls while others resent any land use regulations. Some want no changes in Saguache wanting it to stay as it is, while others are hoping change will bring opportunity for jobs, more sustainable practices, and improved services. The challenge for the people of Saguache is how can citizens balance and sustain both the values of the past with the needs of the future. Thus, what should guide how people in Saguache County plan for their future?


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Section III: Guiding Principles
Guiding Principles Responsible Planning is an overarching theme of the Saguache County Master Plan. Saguache County government is committed to leading by example, promoting public participation, and to intergovernmental and community partnerships that protect the natural systems that support life and improve our quality of life. Saguache County will strive to: 1. Improve the vitality of our communities, economy, and environment by seeking developments that provide multiple benefits. 2. Support energy conservation and efficiency and promote the use of renewable resources while optimizing use of water and all finite resources. 3. Steward our natural and agricultural assets responsibly. 4. Reduce the use and minimize the release of hazardous materials. 5. Increase affordable, well-designed, energy-efficient, and diverse housing choices close to job centers and shopping. 6. Foster businesses that create economic, environmental, and social benefits in alignment with our values. 7. Educate and prepare our workforce and residents, making high-quality education, workforce preparation, and lifelong learning opportunities available to all residents of the county. 8. As they become feasible, participate in regional transportation efforts aimed at improving efficiency and reducing our dependence on single-occupancy vehicles. 9. Respect ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity. 10. Support public health, safety, and welfare. The Saguache County Master Plan is intended to reflect and further elaborate on these guiding principles.

Elements of Smart Growth
Interestingly, the current, widely-accepted parameters of “Smart Growth” reflect much of what Saguache County residents have been saying all along. The elements of Smart Growth are geared to creating livable communities that meet the needs of people while using less land and energy resources and preserving open space, agricultural land, scenic beauty and habitat for wildlife. These include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Mix land uses Taking advantage of alternative building designs Encourage a range of housing opportunities and choices Encourage walk able neighborhoods, where appropriate Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas, where ever possible


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7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities 8. Encourage a variety of transportation choices 9. Make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective 10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions The Saguache County Planning Commission embraces Smart Growth concepts. As this Master Plan only covers the unincorporated areas of the Saguache County, we strongly encourage each municipality within the County also to embrace these principles, in order to ensure a coordinated, harmonious development throughout the County. It will be up to the local planning bodies to determine how growth will occur within the boundaries of local municipalities. This plan aims to establish land use policies that will interface effectively with local plans, as well as establish parameters for growth and development throughout the County that are consistent with our goals.


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009 SECTION IV – NATURAL ELEMENTS

Saguache County is comprised of high altitude, semi-arid valleys and surrounding mountainous alpine environments. It is essentially public and agricultural land. Nearly all of the activities that take place here are land based - ranching, farming, mining, logging, recreation and retreat - with just enough residential and less than enough commercial to support these. The County is approximately 79% public land, including national forest, wildlife refuge, national park, wilderness, BLM and state land. Most commercial exchanges of County residents take place in the counties to the north and south and west (Chaffee, Alamosa, Rio Grande, and Gunnison) or by order and delivery. There is little industrial development. Using available Geographic Information System (GIS) data from a variety of sources, a Master “mapping atlas” of the County was prepared. These maps are both scattered throughout and available for viewing within the Land Use office. In addition, the County has extensive maps detailing its “1041 designated areas” – Areas and Activities of State Interest. These areas were designated by the state in the 1970s, and have recently been updated and computerized, which will greatly assist the Planning Commission in its current efforts to designate appropriate areas for development.

Agricultural Land
Ranching and farming are the primary economic activity in the County. The existence of large areas of Agricultural Lands are shown on the map located within the appendix of this document. Commodities such as organic carrots, lettuce and spinach are also raised on a commercial scale. The concept favored by the Plan is that individual land owners have the ability to develop their property consistent with the Saguache County Land Development Code.


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009 Water
The majority of Saguache County derives its water from the Rio Grande Basin. The portion of the county west of the Continental Divide is part of the Upper Gunnison Basin and its waters are tributaries to the Colorado River. A small portion in the North is part of the Arkansas River Basin. The Rio Grande is the largest river in the area and has perennial flow through most of its length in Colorado and New Mexico. The Rio Grande, Arkansas and Colorado River Compacts represent a highly negotiated agreement which are regulated by Colorado State Statutes. The State Engineer's office in Colorado maintains records on water usage, diversions and stream flows. See the Colorado State Division of Water Resources for more information concern Water laws. Water Rights The legal right to divert and use water in Colorado has been deliberated and defined from before the time of statehood in 1876. Article 16 of the Colorado Constitution defines the water doctrine known as "prior appropriation", which has stood the test of time as Colorado developed from a frontier western state to the modern era of the late 20th century. Since 1876, the constitution and subsequent water court rulings have governed the use, diversion and storage of water in Colorado. "Prior appropriation shall give the better right as between those using the water for the same purpose...." is a Colorado constitutional excerpt that is the basis for the first in use, first in right doctrine of water appropriation. This Colorado water doctrine has become one of the legal foundations upon which water is governed, managed and distributed in Colorado. The appropriation doctrine envelops several interrelated concepts. The two major concepts are: 1) a water right is a right to the use of the water; the right is acquired by appropriation; and 2) an appropriation is the act of diverting water from its source and applying it to a beneficial use. As part of the Department of Natural Resources, the Division of Water Resources provides specific services to citizens of the state including administration of laws in accordance with court decrees and state legislation. Rio Grande and Gunnison Basin waters in the State of Colorado are currently overallocated, with projected shortfalls of hundreds of thousands of acre feet by the year 2030. The economy of Saguache County and in fact the entire San Luis Valley is highly dependent on irrigated agriculture. Clearly the issue of water should be a consideration in County development decisions.

All of Saguache County is home to a variety of wildlife. However approximately 79% of the habitat area is located on public lands. Habitat, migration corridors and breeding grounds/seasons are all factors affecting the what, where and when of construction activities in the County. Maps of the various habitat areas are included in the Colorado Division of Wildlife maps available in the Land Use office.

Threatened or Endangered Species
The County is home to a number of animal species that are listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and/or the US Fish & Wildlife Service.


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Wetlands are defined as “lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water”. Wetlands cover only about 1.5 percent of Colorado (1 million acres) and are of high ecological and economic value. According to the USACE and US Environmental Protection Agency, compensatory mitigation attempts to provide “no net loss” of wetlands. Thus, if development occurs in wetlands requiring draining and/or degradation of natural wetlands then the developer will be required to fully comply with all applicable laws.

Ecologically Sensitive Areas
Saguache County is concerned with protecting Ecologically Sensitive Areas; therefore, the County may require specialists to review these areas.

Geologic features and natural hazards Landowners need to be aware of the possibility that the following Geologic Features/Natural Hazards may exist: Rio Grande Rift (fault line) located along the Eastern portions of the County Steep Slope topographic Wildfire Flood Plains High Winds Draught Conditions Rock slides/mud slides Flash Floods
Any development requiring county approval may require review by one or more of the above

Wildfire represents the most likely to occur significant hazard in the County. The areas of most concern risks to human life and property are known as wildlandurban interface (WUI) zones. Wildfire hazard areas are identified on the County’s Areas of State Interest maps. As fire does not recognize jurisdictional boundaries, the County has intergovernmental agreements with federal and state land managers in the event that a fire event encompasses both public and private lands. The County has completed a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the western side of the County which contained a Master risk assessment and a number of recommendations to mitigate potential losses. The County Emergency Manager disseminates information to property owners County-wide on precautionary methods to reduce fire risks, as well as ensuring ongoing training for the County’s fire fighters.


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Establishment and Refinement of Goals, Policies and Strategies
The establishment of goals, policies and strategies are used in this context to articulate an ideal future situation. For a plan to have integrity, goals must accurately reflect the stated values of the citizens of Saguache County. Goals are considered a desired condition for the future and strategies are specific ways to obtain these goals. The establishment of goals provides the basis for determining alternative land use scenarios and code modifications as necessary. GOAL

Encourage the protection of important natural resources of Saguache County, including water, air, soils, wildlife habitats and corridors, agricultural lands, open space, and public recreational areas. Policy Pursue measures aimed at protecting and improving the environmental quality and resources of the County. Strategies
Update all Master Plan maps to ensure inclusion and detailing of all lands within the County, with special attention to those areas west of the Continental Divide. Complete a County Flood Plan to reduce potential property losses. Protect sensitive areas like agricultural land, riparian areas, wetlands and wildlife habitat as the County grows. Encourage educational programs regarding water conservation measures for residential, agricultural and commercial land uses. Encourage future-park and green space areas to use non-potable irrigation sources. Review the Land Development Code to adopt standards for development on slopes and ridgeline. Prepare a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the entire County.


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Chapter 1: Patterns of Development of the Built Environment
If we are going to fulfill our commitment to plan for responsible growth and to County residents’ call for the protection of agricultural land, open space and wildlife habitat, we need to consider development patterns. State law exempts parcels of 35 acres or more from County subdivision regulations (CRS 30-28-101(10)(b). These exemptions can impair the ability of counties to provide services. The creation of thirty five acre+ tracts has long been an expressed concern of Saguache County residents. Most tax revenue in this County used to maintain infrastructure comes from agriculture tax revenue. Occasionally, 35-acre lots are developed in areas that are completely inaccessible to fire protection. While the County does inform prospective residents wanting to settle in remote locations that emergency (fire, ambulance) and road services cannot be promptly provided, this does not realistically eliminate the need to provide them. In addition to encouraging the Right to Farm and Ranch regulations, which Saguache County already has in place, the AFT Guide describes several opportunities that landowners have to reap financial benefits from their land while protecting and maintaining ownership of it. These include federal initiatives such as Farm and Ranchland Protection, Forest Legacy and Grassland Reserve programs; and private options such as agricultural conservation easements, estate planning and land trusts. The State of Colorado has a program that allows a tax credit to be taken against state income taxes by an individual or entity donating a conservation easement. The State also created the Great Outdoors Colorado Open Space Grant Program (GOCO), which awards competitive grants for projects that protect and enhance Colorado wildlife, parks, rivers, trails, open spaces and agricultural land. Planning Options The Saguache County Planning Commission is permitted authorized under CRS 3028-111 to adopt a zoning plan, as follows:

“The county planning commission of any county may and upon order of the county commissioners make a zoning plan for zoning all or any part of the unincorporated territory within such county for the regulation by districts or zones of the location, height, bulk, and size of buildings and other structures, percentage of lot which may be occupied, the size of lots, courts, and other open spaces, the density and distribution of population, the location and use of buildings and structures for trade, industry, residence, recreation, public activities, or other purposes, access to sunlight for solar energy devices, and the uses of land for trade, industry, recreation, or other purposes.”


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Currently, the unincorporated lands of Saguache County are all zoned agricultural. The Land Development Code lists permitted uses for the zone, and other uses that can be permitted conditionally. The County has also adopted what are known as 1041 Regulations that can be applied to Areas and Activities of State Interest, as defined by State statute (CRS 24-65.1-101).

Night Sky Preservation
According to resident surveys, the brilliant clarity of the night sky here is one of the most consistently and reverently valued features of County life. The current Land Development Code contains provisions for any necessary lighting to be shielded and directed downward. When we consider what kind of development we would like to attract, an irrefutable preference exists for activities that do not “light up the night”. Some County residents have also expressed interest in preserving view-sheds and the scenic vistas.

Accommodate compatible growth while preserving agricultural and range land, open space and wildlife habitat and personal property rights. Policy

Encourage development that optimizes the use of existing infrastructure and conserves and protects natural resources.
Strategies Collaborate with municipalities to identify urban growth areas within or adjacent to municipal boundaries. Make available information resource for landowners that highlight the different programs and options available to assist in financial benefit from their land while maintaining ownership and providing natural resource protections. Make available a site review process to assist landowners in choosing the best location on their land for development to avoid natural hazards (flood, wildfire, erosion) and address emergency response parameters. Ensure that all applicable standards (local, state and federal) are applied to existing and future industrial development. Discuss setbacks and site design guidelines in selected areas to enhance and protect the aesthetic quality of community gateways and other high visibility corridors. Discuss specific planning areas for high density residential, commercial, mixed use and industrial developments with an eye to making productive use of currently non-productive land, optimizing existing infrastructure and protecting open space, wildlife habitat and agricultural and rangeland.


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Policy Encourage greater density residential development to preserve agricultural lands and open space. Strategies Encourage the renovation and creation of housing in existing subdivisions. Encourage the consolidation of adjoining lots in existing subdivisions. Policy Encourage commercial development in areas to increase revenue from the commercial sector. Strategies Identify areas where commercial development is desirable. Create incentives for businesses to locate in these locations.

Chapter 2: Energy & Efficient Building
Energy is essential to every sector of the economy and community, and the design of the built environment determines how much energy is used. How energy is obtained and produced also has major impacts on individual and environmental health. Saguache County encourages the maximum, cost-effective utilization of renewable energy sources into all new development, as well as retrofitting of existing structures and systems. The County acknowledges the considerable energy potential that exists here, and supports the appropriate scale development of renewable energy sources. Consideration of conservation measures should come before or at least go hand-in-hand with, the development of new energy resources. There are a number of conservation and renewable energy incentive programs that have been initiated at both state and federal levels. These appear as Appendix C to this Plan. Colorado’s Governor’s Energy Office (www.colorado.gov/energy/) provides a wealth of information, programs and partnership opportunities aimed at maximizing the development of the state’s considerable renewable energy potential. Investing in energy efficiency, distributed scale renewable energy production, and green building practices will reduce our ecological footprint and our emission contribution to greenhouse gases., increase the reliability of our energy supply, create jobs, and help keep dollars in our local economy. County policies and programs can contribute to a more sustainable energy future by: • • • increasing energy efficiency and conservation prioritizing renewable resources and local production promoting efficient building design and materials


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• should promote using local building materials and services Energy Efficiency How to build energy efficient structures has been known for decades and new technologies (as well as modifications to old ones) continue to increase our ability to create healthy, low impact shelter. It is the intent of Saguache County to make a commitment to our future by encouraging the maximum cost effective use of energy conservation tools and technologies. Clearly any Master Plan needs to embrace the goals of safe, livable environments, high quality, sustainable future development and a housing mix diversified enough to meet the actual needs of the County’s residents. The basic belief of responsible development should take place within and adjacent to existing development - to a large extent within the incorporated areas of Saguache County. GOAL Increase the energy efficiency of the built environment in Saguache County. Policy Energy efficiency should be a consideration for any new structures and additions to existing structures built in Saguache County. Strategies Provide any information and resource materials that informs residents, builders and developers of the long term cost and environmental benefits of energy efficient design and lists suppliers and local building consultants. Review existing building practices to assess the possibility of adopting some building design guidelines for the County. Ensure that the County is taking maximum advantage of the programs and assistance available through the Governor’s Energy Office. Strategies Encourage the use of buffer zones, landscaping, berming and other design techniques to help mitigate the impact to adjacent landowners. GOAL Encourage environmentally sound methods of using and disposing of solid and hazardous waste. Policy Develop programs that educate and encourage residents to reduce, reuse and recycle.


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Strategies Advertise existing drop-off locations for recyclables and pursue options for increasing recycling. Educate residents about ways to reduce, reuse and recycle their solid waste. Encourage composting and mulching of “green” yard waste in cooperation with the CSU Extension Service. Support and expand the County’s efforts to provide information to residents which explain the proper use and disposal of common household hazardous waste. Goals and strategies related to the reduction of fossil fuel use appear in subsequent sections of the Plan. HOUSING 2007 data from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DoLA) puts the number of housing units in Saguache County at 3756 (1 for every 1.84 people). This number does not include unfinished houses, of which there are a considerable number. According to US Census data, new housing units in Saguache County increased at a rate of 2.8% per year from 2000 - 2007, somewhat faster than the population. This would seem reasonable except that nearly 25% of all residential units in the County were unoccupied in 2000 - a very high vacancy rate - which would indicate that housing supply has continued to outpace demand throughout the period. Nationwide the vacancy rate is 13.8%, and averages only about 12% in the western US. However 2000 data indicates that approximately 45% of vacant houses in the County were owned and retained for recreational or occasional use, reducing the rate of “unintended” vacancies. At that time, 6% of vacant units were categorized as for sale and not available for occupancy. While no hard updated data is available, that number would appear to be higher now. The US Census data leaves over 45% of vacant units uncategorized and unexplained, so no Master picture of housing vacancies is currently available. Just over 69% of occupied housing units are owner-occupied, indicative of the availability of sufficient (though not necessarily affordable) rental units. About half the structures in the County were built before 1980, and half since then (see graph below).


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Construction by Decade
Built 1939 or earlier Built 1940-1959 Built 1960-1969 Built 1970-1979 Built 1980-1989 Built 1990-1999 Built 2000 -2007
150 200 250 300 400 500 600 432 720 696 700 720 267 648 484 508


In spite of excess supply, housing has become much less affordable for some County residents over the last decade. An industry standard to understand the affordability of housing is the relationship between median housing prices and median household income (MHI). The recent economic downturn has halted the escalation of housing prices. While home ownership may be in reach for more than the small percentage of County residents that the data above indicates, it does not alter the conclusion that it is far less affordable than it was a decade ago. Housing Assistance – Currently there is subsidized housing, including Section 8 housing programs in Saguache County. and HUD public housing units are also available. Energy Efficiency How to build energy efficient structures has been known for decades and new technologies (as well as modifications to old ones) continue to increase our ability to create healthy, low impact shelter. It is the intent of Saguache County to make a commitment to our future by encouraging the maximum cost effective use of energy conservation tools and technologies. Clearly any Master Plan needs to embrace the goals of safe, livable environments, high quality, sustainable future development and a housing mix diversified enough to meet the actual needs of the County’s residents. The basic belief of responsible development should take place within and adjacent to existing development - to a large extent within the incorporated areas of Saguache County.

Chapter 4

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Highways Saguache County has two US and three State Highways running through it, two north-south (CO 17 and US 285 and 2 east-west (CO 112 & 114). A segment of US Highway 50 that runs from Salida to Gunnison also dips down into the County from the north. The Colorado Department of Transportation provides a myriad of data associated with state highways, including geometries and surface conditions. Local Roadway The County contains 898 miles of Highway Users Tax eligible roads that are maintained by the County, 498 that are classified as arterial or collector (though some of these are gravel) and 400 that are classified as local roads. There are 202 miles of (non-HUT) roads that are maintained by others and177 miles that are not maintained. Local roadway mileage count data is gathered yearly by, the Road and Bridge Department. Clearly in a large, sparsely populated County with extreme weather conditions, road maintenance will be both an ongoing challenge and a major County expense. Snow removal is performed on all County roads that have inhabitants, with school bus routes having the highest priority. The Road and Bridge Department employs 26 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. Transit Demand for transit services in rural areas and for the elderly or disabled population has always been hard to estimate. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) analysis procedure considers transit demand in two major categories: • • “program demand”, which is generated by transit ridership to and from specific social service programs; and “non-program demand”, which is generated by the other mobility needs of the elderly, disabled, and low-income population, e.g. shopping, employment, and medical trips.

There are agencies that currently provide transit services to specific populations in the County. Saguache County is currently in a position to play a role in planning transit services to County residents. However we should monitor the situation and watch for opportunities to participate in expanded regional initiatives as they arise. GOAL Provide and maintain a roadway network which meets the access needs of the County in a safe, economical, ecological and efficient manner.



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Initiate an emphasis on preventive maintenance of County roads. Complete a prioritized needs assessment for County roads. Design and construct County road projects in a manner that minimizes negative impacts to water quality and sensitive environmental areas. Encourage new and expanded partnerships with the State to encourage that the roads within Saguache County are properly maintained. Actively pursue State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) funds through the involvement of both staff and elected officials in the prioritization process. Policy Ensure that new development mitigates its proportional share of impacts on the existing transportation infrastructure. Airports Airports contribute to a region’s mobility and access to services as well as helping to support economic activity. There are 2 airports in the County, the Leach Airport near Center and Saguache Municipal Airport. Leach Airport is located 4 miles NE of the Town of Center and is used primarily for agricultural purposes. The County owns the airstrip there, but currently has no plans for improvements. There are two regional airports within travel distance of Saguache County residence: Gunnison and Alamosa. Policy Continue the review of transportation impacts of any new application requests. GOAL Support alternative modes of transportation Strategies Encourage designated bicycle lanes and pedestrian pathways in new developments where they would help to facilitate cycling and walking. Monitor opportunities for participation in regional public transportation services. Explore feasibility and options for the County fleet use of alternate fuels.



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Promote the Saguache County Airports as a community resource. Continue efforts to increase awareness of use of the airport. Implement the recommendations outlined in the 2006 airport study.


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009 CHAPTER 5: PUBLIC FACILITIES AND IMPROVEMENTS
As well as being a registered historic building, the Saguache County Courthouse, located in the Town of Saguache, houses the administrative offices of the County: Administrator, Clerk, Treasurer, Land Use, Tax Assessor as well as the court. The Sheriff’s office and jail facilities are conveniently located in an adjacent building, and down the street are Social Services, Public Health and Veterans Affairs. There are additional County administrative offices in the Town of Center.

Landfill and Recycling Center
Overseen by the Road and Bridge Department, the Saguache County Landfill employs 2 people full time. Recycling (like so many issues in rural counties) presents economy of scale challenges. Having more material, properly bundled, increases markets and the price paid, however if an adequate amount is not recycled, the drop-off facility can’t afford the equipment and shelter necessary manage the material effectively. Storm water plan and floodplain mitigation While FEMA mapping has been done, the County currently does not have a storm water management and flood mitigation plan in place.

Water and Sanitation
Water and sanitation in the unincorporated territory of the County is provided almost exclusively by private wells and septic systems.

Gas and Electricity
Xcel Energy and Center Municipal Light & Power are distributors of both electric and natural gas energy. The San Luis Valley and Gunnison Rural Electric Cooperatives distribute electricity only. Telecommunications Telecommunications are provided by several different businesses. Several Cellular services are provided by several different providers. Cellular and wireless services are not always available in certain portions of our County.


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Emergency Services
There are ambulance districts in the County; and several EMS services in the San Luis Valley. Most EMS agencies are staffed with volunteers, who provide prehospital services 24/7, 365 days a year. There are no hospitals in the County, however there are designated trauma centers in the San Luis Valley, Salida and Gunnison. The County is serviced by 4 different fire protection districts. The La Garita area (west of Center) is currently in the process of forming a district. The districts all have mutual aid agreements with other neighboring districts and relationships/agreements are being forged with the USFS/BLM on areas of mutual concern. If a fire occurs in an area not included in a district, nearby districts will still respond, but have the option of billing for the costs associated. District boundary line maps are available from the Saguache County Assessor’s office. Law Enforcement The County Sheriff Department is responsible for law enforce within the unincorporated area of Saguache County, with the cooperation of local, state and federal agencies. The County Sheriff is also responsible for administration of County Jail. Capital Improvements Plan In order to appropriately apply impact fees for new development, the County must have a Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Policy The County will be responsible for funding public improvements necessitated by obsolescence, changes in County goals, or to meet longstanding needs in the County infrastructure. Strategies Complete the five year capital improvement program. Development of impact fees may be established to help pay for facilities and/or improvements necessitated by growth. Expand communication facilities, such as EMS, E911, Reverse 911 and work with local radio stations to announce emergency notifications...


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While Saguache County does not have a formal economic development office, there is interest in encouraging appropriate economic development within the County. During the most recent public forums held as part of the Master Plan process, economic development emerged as the 2nd most important concern of participating County residents, who voiced a clear need for the County to encourage economic activities that can ensure economic stability for residents and that are consistent with community values. Interestingly, providing incentives for economic development was second only to preserving open space and wildlife habitat, which speaks to a clear need for an economic development plan that does not threaten what a majority of County residents hold most dear. Saguache County has historically been one of the most economically challenged counties in Colorado, and in the nation. Most residents have expressed the desire for expanded opportunities for meaningful employment at attractive wages that move them in the direction of economic prosperity.

Organizations Involved in Economic Development There are several Economic Development Organizations in Saguache County: Saguache County Community Council Saguache County Tourism Council ScSeed (Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic

San Luis Valley Development Resource Council Group Saguache County Business Association Colorado Small Business Development Council Villa Grove Area Merchants Association Saguache Chamber of Commerce

There could be others within the County that are not listed. Sales Tax
The County currently imposes a 1% sales tax and no use tax.


Increasing Economic Opportunities – What, Where and How?


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Agriculture-related businesses and value-added ag businesses are naturals for Saguache County. Ag related businesses have always been our number one industry in our County. There has been some long-term interest in developing non-polluting, neighborfriendly, light-industrial and commercial business at the Saguache Municipal Airport. Recently completed (Sept 08) was a Targeted Industry Study (TIS) for the San Luis Valley, funded in part by the SLV Development Resources Group. The study includes recommendations for the Valley as a whole, and also specific recommendations for counties. Priorities for Saguache County are: agriculture, alternative energy development, tourism and light industrial development and home based businesses. Saguache County strives to encourage manufacturing industries that, offer high wages, employ the County’s available workforce, and could make a meaningful contribution to the County’s tax base. These include: Agricultural Activities Outdoor Recreational activities (hunting, fishing etc) Development of Recreational facilities Medical Equipment and Supplies Pharmaceutical manufacturing Artisan manufacturing Renewable Energy Anyone considering economic development needs to take into consideration workforce availability, appropriate site location, supply and distribution needs and community impacts. Another avenue to explore is how we can promote businesses that would provide goods and services that are not currently available in our communities.

Renewable Energy Development
The San Luis Valley is the top-rated target for large scale solar energy development in Colorado, and the 5th ranked site in the nation. Other renewable energy sources that could potentially be developed include wind, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric. While Saguache County is highly supportive of renewable energy development, we are aware of the current national debate and research that clearly points to a distributed model (rooftop, site-based, and municipal scale) of renewable energy development as the most ecological, economically and socially beneficial, lowest risk (in terms of both investment and national security issues) and the fastest way to get renewable on line and in use, lowering our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in general. In Colorado, residential renewable energy businesses have tripled in just over 3 years. As we install clean energy in more homes and businesses, this industry will create more high-paying jobs for the Colorado economy. The County


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should explore ways to develop our significant renewable energy resources in a manner that maximizes benefits to County and other San Luis Valley residents. The County supports the creation of the San Luis Valley Power Authority currently undergoing a feasibility study.

Biomass and Biofuel
Biomass technologies include numerous ways of using organic matter to directly generate power, heat, be processed into fuels, or converted to organically derived chemicals and other materials. Since many types of organic matter are constantly renewed, biomass processes offer the benefit of generating oxygen while growing, and their combustion or conversion generates much less carbon and toxins than conventional fossil fuels. Biomass sources include agricultural food and feed crops, crop waste and residues, wood wastes and residues, dedicated energy crops and trees, aquatic plants, animal wastes, and municipal wastes. Recent tax incentives have made forest residues, agricultural residues, and energy crops more economic for energy use than they were previously. Forest residues include underutilized logging residues, imperfect commercial trees, dead wood, and other non-commercial trees that need to be thinned from crowded, unhealthy, fire-prone forests. Because of their sparseness and remote location, these residues are usually more expensive to recover than urban and mill residues. Biofuel Resources - In general, current U.S. ethanol production is based largely on the starch in kernels of field corn, the nation's largest agricultural crop. Any starch or sugar crop, however, can now be used to make ethanol.

The Saguache County Tourism Board is participating in Valley-wide efforts to attract tourists and outdoor enthusiasts to the Valley. Given the wealth of potential “destinations” – National Forest and designated wilderness areas, stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities, wildlife, hunting and fishing, historic sites, hot springs, spiritual and healing centers, art and artisans, sustainable architecture and energy, music, historic rail and even hot air Ballooning, the San Luis Valley and western mountain areas have great appeal for those wanting a vacation that is healthful and enriching as well as fun. Combining our efforts and resources with other Valley counties will enable a greater outreach. Use of advertising in major business publications, as well as professional publications and trade journals, could be successful in marketing the County as a place to visit and vacation.

Resource Extraction and Development
Mineral extraction in Saguache County has historically risen and fallen with both domestic and world-wide markets. The Colorado Geologic Survey, Department of Natural Resources produces annual summaries and field production data regarding oil and gas production for the entire state, including county-level production


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summaries. However Saguache County has very limited geographic information regarding resource extraction. GOAL Develop a diversified and stable economic base that provides Saguache County residents with a variety of opportunities for meaningful employment that provides a viable income. Policy Support a business environment that encourages existing and new businesses and industries to remain or relocate in Saguache County, grow, and continue to be successful while providing benefits to the County and its citizens. Strategies Continue the dynamic partnership with the CSU Extension Service located in the Valley, in support of agricultural product and market development and a local agriculture network. Assemble a package of information on technical and financial assistance and incentives available to building and business owners. Continue to pursue efforts to develop mutually beneficial and cooperative relationships between the County, existing and new businesses and related organizations. Encourage and support cross-marketing opportunities. Policy Initiate and support economic development programs which identify and recruit activities that provide a living wage and are environmentally responsible to locate in Saguache County. Strategies Initiate efforts to modernize and improve telecommunication services available to County businesses. Take advantage of recent market research, and expand this effort if necessary, to identify opportunities to develop Saguache County assets to local advantage and link them to larger markets. Periodically assess the effectiveness of partnership efforts among economic and community development entities. Implement changes to strengthen these efforts if necessary to ensure success.


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Emphasize improvement of amenities that make Saguache County a desirable place to live and do business, including quality of life and access to recreational opportunities. Consider offering incentives to businesses that may be looking to locate in Saguache County, consistent with the County’s economic development. Consider development impacts on quality of life, i.e. public safety, housing, education, utility services, etc. when recruiting new businesses, and develop a set of target businesses that are consistent with the adopted Master Plan. Policy Pursue renewable energy resource development in a manner that provides maximum benefits to Saguache County residents. Strategies Research the training needed for long term, well-paid jobs in energy conservation, solar energy production and other renewable energy, and provide this to County high schools and employment agencies. Partner higher educational intuitions to find funding for and create vocational training programs. GOAL Increase revenue from tourism in the County. Policy Promote the attractiveness of Saguache County’s natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources. Strategies Expand partnership activities with the Saguache County Tourism Council to promote the map of “not-to-miss” County (and nearby) sites of natural, historic and recreational interest. Work with state and federal land management agencies to identify and expand educational/recreational opportunities/activities on public lands within the County. Work to enhance and maintain existing festivals and events and to introduce new events and activities. GOAL Encourage an adequate mix of commercial development that meets the needs of citizens and visitors


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Support and promote compact mixed commercial use. Strategies

Support efforts to diversify businesses.

Community Culture
As in many rural places with a pioneering history, the community culture in the County is characterized by a “long distance good neighbors” policy. We tend towards rugged individualism - we like our privacy, freedom and independence - but are “there in a minute” if one of us needs help of any kind. Given our remote location, we are well aware that there are many scenarios that could leave us very much depending on one another.

Historic Sites
Saguache County contains a number of historic sites that appear on National and State Registers of Historic Properties. Being a place where many streams of human culture – Native American, Spanish, trappers, miners, farmers, ranchers, war veterans, loggers, environmentalists and spiritual practitioners - converged, there are a lot of historic sites in the San Luis Valley. There are many historic mining districts and archeological sites.

The Saguache County Courthouse built in 1910

Saguache County Museum


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There are 5 school districts that are either wholly or partially contained within the County. Saguache County Library The Saguache County Public Library is located in the Town of Saguache and a branch located within the Center School.

Public Health and Social Services
The Saguache County has Public Health and Social Services Departments located in the Town of Saguache with branches in the Town of Center.

Current Community Events
There are a number of annual events that attract both County residents and those from afar.

Recreation is an integral part of the Saguache County lifestyle. With the combination of an abundance of public lands and a sparse population, many types of high quality outdoor recreational experiences are readily available year round. A map of public trails within Saguache County is available from the Forest Service office. Goal Provide for development of parks and recreation facilities to serve the recreation needs of residents and visitors. Policy Park and recreation facilities should provide for both outdoor and indoor recreation opportunities for County residents and guests. Strategies Work with existing organizations to help Saguache County Tourism Council to create an informational brochure describing the various recreational opportunities in the County. Evaluate existing recreational demands and facilities located within the local area. Upgrade and/or add facilities to meet unmet recreational needs. Explore the possibility of using existing school facilities year round and evenings for public recreation, to put such recreation opportunities closer to home for more of the County’s residents.


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Explore with the Forest Service and other public land managers how best to meet the recreational demands of residents and visitors. Utilize public open space areas for recreation. Encourage site design criteria that provide an open space requirement for new subdivisions. Encourage multi use trail routes. Develop cooperative agreements with landowners regarding joint use of rights-of-way for trails.

Enhance ties between the East and West sides of the County as well as among neighboring towns and communities while recognizing the need to maintain local and diverse identities. Strategies Improve networking throughout the County and foster more county-wide partnerships.


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Appendix A Authorization under Colorado State Statutes
30-28-108. Adoption of plan by resolution. A county or regional planning commission may adopt the county or regional master plan as a whole by a single resolution or, as the work of making the whole master plan progresses, may adopt parts thereof, any such part to correspond generally with one or more of the functional subdivisions of the subject matter which may be included in the plan. The commission may amend, extend, or add to the plan or carry any part of it into greater detail from time to time. The adoption of the plan or any part, amendment, extension, or addition shall be by resolution carried by the affirmative votes of not less than a majority of the entire membership of the commission. The resolution shall refer expressly to the maps and descriptive matter intended by the commission to form the whole or part of the plan. The action taken shall be recorded on the map and descriptive matter by the identifying signature of the secretary of the commission. Source: L. 39: p. 297, § 7. CSA: C. 45A, § 7. CRS 53: § 106-2-7. C.R.S. 1963: § 106-2-7. Commission may amend, add, or extend plan once adopted and approved. Once the master plan is adopted by the commission and approved by the board, the commission then may amend, extend, or add to the plan as time and circumstances dictate. Johnson v. Board of County Comm'rs, 34 Colo. App. 14, 523 P.2d 159 (1974), aff'd sub nom. Colorado Leisure Prods., Inc. v. Johnson, 187 Colo. 443, 532 P.2d 742 (1975). Also, this section is applicable to the resolutions of county commissioners on the subject of zoning property. Gorden v. Board of County Comm'rs, 152 Colo. 376, 382 P.2d 545 (1963). In amending the zoning law, the official or body making the amendment is enacting law, binding on the public, and is not merely dealing with the rights of the owners of the particular property affected, and the act is legislative and based on present facts, rather than judicial and dependent on past facts. Gorden v. Board of County Comm'rs, 152 Colo. 376, 382 P.2d 545 (1963). Municipal ordinance precluded. Where a statute, such as this section, authorizes the adoption of zoning regulations by means of resolution, the municipality may not act by way of ordinance; but where the statute requires an ordinance for the attainment of the zoning restriction, a resolution is ineffective to accomplish the desired result. Gorden v. Board of County Comm'rs, 152 Colo. 376, 382 P.2d 545 (1963). The pronouncements of the supreme court in cases dealing with zoning ordinances adopted by cities are applicable to the actions of county commissioners in connection with zoning "resolutions" which they are now authorized to adopt, unless some specific statutory provision authorizes a different procedure. Gorden v. Board of County Comm'rs, 152 Colo. 376, 382 P.2d 545 (1963).

Appendix B Federal Energy Related Programs Energy Efficiency Incentives


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Energy efficient buildings deduction to owners of new or existing commercial buildings who install interior lighting OR HVAC OR hot water systems that reduce the building's total energy and power cost by 50% or more relative to a comparable building. Deduction equals $0.30 - $1.80 per square foot depending on the technology and energy reduction. Expires 12/31/2013 Accelerated depreciation for smart meters and smart grid systems and recycling equipment. Authorization of $800 million in new Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) to state and local government initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. QECBs can be issued to finance capital expenditures incurred for reducing energy consumption by at least 20%, implementing green community programs and rural development involving production of electricity from renewable resources. Manufacturer tax credits for sales of high-efficiency refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, and dehumidifiers. Expires 12/31/2010 Solar Energy Incentives

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30% of installation costs, including solar energy equipment and labor, with no maximum credit limit for commercial systems. Eligible property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool (or provide hot water for use in) a structure, or to provide solar process heat. Credit reverts to 10% 12/31/2016 Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30% of installation costs, including solar energy equipment and labor, for residential systems. While a cap of $2,000 applied to all solar (photovoltaic and domestic hot water) systems installed on or before 12/31/2008; no cap exists for solar photovoltaic beginning 01/01/2009. Credit reverts to 10% 12/31/2016 Wind Energy Incentives

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30% of total installed costs for small wind systems (100kW capacity or less) for home, farm, or business use. Residential systems are limited to the lesser of $1,000 per kW capacity or $4,000. Measured output must be installed by 12/31/2016 Geothermal Energy Incentives

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 10% of expenditures for geothermal energy property, including geothermal heat pumps and equipment used to produce, distribute or use energy derived from a geothermal deposit. For electricity produced by geothermal power, equipment qualifies only up to, but not including, the electric transmission stage. For geothermal heat pumps, this credit applies to and is capped at $2,000. In service date range (heat pumps only): 01/01/2008-12/31/2016 Fuel Cells Incentives


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30% of expenditures for commercial or residential fuel cell property. The credit is capped at $1,500 per 0.5 kw of capacity for commercial, $500 per half kw for residential. Eligible property includes fuel cells with a minimum nameplate capacity of 0.5 kW that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 30% or higher. Expires: 12/31/2016 Other Renewable Energy Incentives

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 10% of expenditures for microturbines with system size of up to 2 MW in capacity that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 26% or higher. Credit is capped at $200 per kw of capacity. Expires: 12/31/2016 Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of up 10% of expenditures for combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Eligible CHP property generally includes systems up to 50 MW in capacity that exceed 60% energy efficiency, subject to certain limitations and reductions for large systems. The efficiency requirement does not apply to CHP systems that use biomass for at least 90% of the system's energy source, but the credit may be reduced for less-efficient systems. New authorization for $800 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to finance facilities that generate electricity from wind, (closed-loop or open-loop) biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, qualified hydropower, landfill gas, marine renewable and trash combustion facilities. Public power providers, governmental bodies, and electric cooperatives are each reserved an equal share (33.33%) of the most recent allocation. The termination date for existing clean renewable energy bonds is extended by one year. Transportation & Alternative Fuels Incentives

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Credit for plug-in electric drive vehicles ranging from $2,500-$7,500. The credit can be applied to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) liability. Expires: The first quarter after 250,000 qualified vehicles have been sold in the US. Allowance for limited fringe benefits provided by employers to employees who commute to work by bicycle to offset the costs of such commuting (e.g., storage). Alternative Refueling Stations Property Tax Credit for 30% of the property for natural gas or E85 pumps Expands the tax credit to apply to electric vehicle recharging property. Expires: 12/31/2010 Alternative Fuels Excise Tax Credit for all fuels, except hydrogen. Biomass gas versions of liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied or compressed natural gas, and aviation fuels qualify for the credit. Expires: 12/31/2009 Production Tax Credit (PTC) of $1/gal for biodiesel, $0.10/gal for small biodiesel producers, and $1/gal diesel fuel from biomass. Regardless of the process used, as long as the fuel is usable as home heating oil, as a fuel in vehicles, or as aviation jet fuel. Expires: 12/31/2009 Diesel fuel created by co-processing biomass with other feedstocks (e.g., petroleum) will be eligible for the 50¢/gallon tax credit for alternative fuels. Taxpayers are allowed to immediately write off 50% of the cost of facilities that produce cellulosic biofuels ethanol if such facilities are placed in service before 01/01/2013. v

Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009

Section 9004 of the 2008 Farm Bill: Repowering Assistance – Provides for payments to biorefineries to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power to operate the biorefineries with renewable biomass. $35 Million for FY 2009 that will remain available until the funds are exhausted with additional funding of $15 million per year, from FY 2009 through 2012. Section 9005 of the 2008 Farm Bill: Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels – Provides for payments to be made to eligible agricultural producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels. $55 Million in FYs 2009 and 2010; $85 Million in FY 2011; $105 Million in FY 2012 with additional funding of $25 million per year, from FY 2009 to 2012 Section 9013 of the 2008 Farm Bill: Community Wood Energy Program – Provides grants to state and local governments to develop community wood energy plans and to acquire or upgrade wood energy systems. $5 Million per year from FY 2009 through FY 2012. Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill: Rural Energy for America Program – Expands and renames the program formerly called the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. Provides grants and loan guarantees for energy audits, feasibility studies and project development of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Adds hydroelectric source technologies and energy audits as eligible costs. Increases loan limits. $55 Million for FY 2009; $60 Million for FY 2010; $70 Million for FYs 2011 and 2012 with additional funding of $25 Million per year, from FY 2009 through 2012.

Appendix C

Environmental Reviews applicable to Economic Development Projects (partial listing)
Historic Properties ∗ National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 – P.L. 89-665, 16 U.S.C. 470. ∗ The Archeological and Historic Data Preservation Act of 1974 – P.L. 93-291, 16 U.S.C. 469. ∗ Executive Order #11593, Protection and Enhancement of the Cultural Environment. ∗ 36 CFR, Part 800, Procedure for the Protection of Historic and Cultural Properties. ∗ 24 CFR, Part 59, Protection of Historic and Cultural Properties under HUD programs. Floodplains and Wetlands ∗ Protection of Wetlands, 44 FR 47006, August 9, 1973. ∗ Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, 42 U.S.C. 4001, et seq. ∗ Executive Order #11988, Floodplain Management, May 24, 1977, 42 FR 26952, May 25, 1977.


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∗ Executive Order #11990, Protection of Wetlands, May 24, 1977, 42 FR 26951, May 25, 1977. ∗ Colorado Executive Order #8491, Evaluation of Flood Hazards in Locating State Buildings, Road and other Facilities, and in Reviewing and Approving Sewage and Water Facilities, and Subdivisions. ∗ Colorado Executive Order #8504, Requirements and Criteria for State Participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. Endangered Species∗ Endangered Species Act of 1973, P.L. 93-205, as amended by the Endangered Species Act of 1978, P.L. 95-632, 16 U.S.C. 1536. Wild and Scenic Rivers∗ Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, P.L. 90-542, 16 U.S.C., 1274, et seq., as amended. Air Quality∗ Clean Air Act Amendment of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 740 1 et seq., as amended, particularly Section 176 (c) and (d). Noise, Hazardous Siting, Airport Runway Clear Zones, EPA Superfund Sites∗ 24 CFR, Part 51, Environmental Criteria and Standards, 44 FR 40860-40866, July 12, 1979 (Revised 1984). Farmland Protection∗ Farmland Protection Policy Act of 1981, 7 U.S.C. 42 01 et seq., particularly sections 1540(b) and 1541. Environmental Justice∗ 3 CFR, 1994 Comp. P. 859; 59 FR 7629, Executive Order 12898, February 11, 1994.


Draft – Saguache County Master Plan 2009