It takes dedicated people willing to work hard to bring about change. Making Places is not easy. It requires significant planning, design, staging and construction – all of which requires money. But once efforts succeed the quality-of-life of everyone experiencing the accomplishment is immeasurable; and the value of Place becomes immediately irreplaceable.
Finding money to fund Placemaking is always a difficult task. Without a large individual gift, the value of small gifts are often significantly diminished by time, rising costs and inflation. However, with dedicated Placemakers the “glass” is always above half-full and they keep working diligently until each goal is achieved and the project is complete.
One such Placemaker is Camille Richard. Camille serves as the Executive Director of the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, a small non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of the natural environment and economy in and around Hinsdale County, Colorado and the other headwaters of the Colorado River Basin. At this time through her leadership, the conservancy is focusing on a series of riparian repairs and related bank improvements that enhance the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and watersheds of the Cebolla Creek valleys.
Richard works her magic with rubber bands, Band Aids, aspirin, grants and donations to keep her projects moving forward. It’s remarkable how she accomplishes so much with so little. During her tenure, she’s learned too how to become a strong negotiator when it comes to securing additional easements for her projects. At the same time, property owners know the small slivers of additional land they contribute to the Conservancy significantly increases the economic value of their remaining property and greatly enhances Placemaking.
With just $750,000.00 in hand, the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy and Camille Richard - with an enormous amount of additional contributions and help from area construction companies - have completed almost 2 million dollars of real world improvements - along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River. A river that originates in the high mountains of Hinsdale County above Colorado’s Blue Mesa Reservoir.
To date, the conservancy’s work includes reconstructing and enhancing the headwaters of the river, repairing the riparian areas along the river’s banks and creating new public access pathways to the river for visitors, fishermen, hikers and picnickers to enjoy. They’ve also constructed some small grassy park areas where there is seating, tables, barbeques and playground equipment to keep younger children entertained.
All of the conservancy’s work along the river is designed and constructed to accommodate the disabled, including those confined to wheelchairs. At several locations platforms extend out into the river so that those in wheelchairs can fully enjoy the river. These platforms are adjacent to newly created enhanced fish habitats that provide an opportunity to those with physical limitations access to excellent fishing.
However, Camille Richard and the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy is only halfway through the river project. So Camille’s out seeking funds once again to complete her second phase of construction. With the entire population of Hinsdale County barely over 800, most of Camille’s fundraising work occurs through reaching outwards. If one loves the high mountains, hunting, fishing, backpacking, hiking and horseback riding, consider contributing to the Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, it’s a worthy cause and tax-deductible.
Better yet, visit Lake City, Colorado this spring; call Camille and have her meet and talk about her river work and the quality-of–life it brings to those that enjoy the river and the mountain valley. Lake City is one of America’s great small villages. With a year-around population just less than 400, the town swells to as many as 2500 during its summer festivals.
Everyone who visits Lake City and Hinsdale County comes back, the Place is addictive. Founded in 1873, its Main Street downtown still functions daily. The entire village of Lake City is designated by the Secretary of Interior and the National Park Service as a historic place. So Camille Richard’s and the conservancy’s efforts and contributions make Lake City even more valuable to America - and to all Americans.
Thank you Camille for being a great Placemaker!