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GARNA Receives Colorado Health Foundation Grant for Chaffee Mobile Gear Library

Photo Credit: Randy Schwitzer

September 6, 2023

Salida, Colo. – The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association announces the awarding of a $80,870 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to fund and coordinate the Chaffee Mobile Gear Library (CMGL) to offer outdoor education, recreation and community building to overcome access barriers through 2023 and into 2024. The grant will fund staffing and programming for the CMGL to allow youth, marginalized communities, and multi-generational families to learn new skills and spend guided, meaningful time in place-based programming focused on the outdoors.

The Chaffee Mobile Gear Library, a project of GARNA, is committed to improving access to the outdoors for everybody. GARNA is partnering with a coalition of local organizations and the nationally based Outdoors Empowered Network to help outfit youth and adults for outdoor based programming in Chaffee County. Partners include The Alliance, City of Salida and Town of Buena Vista Parks and Rec Department, Salida and Buena Vista School Districts, Chaffee County Family and Youth Initiatives, ElevateHer, Southwest Conservation Corps, Alpine Achievers Initiative and Full Circle Restorative Justice. The CPW Equity in the Outdoors Grant through Chaffee Public Health activated the gear library program in 2022.

By offering an inclusive range of outdoor equipment, CMGL aims to break down barriers and ensure that everyone, regardless of background, ability, or experience, has the opportunity to engage with nature and discover the transformative power of the outdoors. Equipment in the CMGL is acquired through donations or purchased from companies that partner with the Outdoors Empowered Network at a significant discount. The gear library will continue to purchase gear and clothing inclusive of all body types, including plus size packs and clothing and will prioritize comfort in the outdoors for all age groups.

Funding will also support creation of affinity groups to lift up BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities within Chaffee County, the Upper Arkansas Valley and beyond, to further outdoor leadership training and gear maintenance techniques applicable to the outdoors.

As part of the outreach, the CMGL will be participating in the National Public Lands Day event with the Chaffee Rec Adopters to promote diversity in taking care of our outdoor spaces. The event will take place at Burmac BLM site in Salida and include a campsite trash and ash cleanup and a social cookout featuring items from the Gear Library. The public is invited to join. More information and sign up at

Learn more about the Chaffee Mobile Gear Library at or contact Jake Vasquez at

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GARNA works with communities of the upper Arkansas River valley to foster the stewardship of the region’s natural environment and the resilience of our communities.

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