Smile: Chaffee County Can Have You On Webcam – by Jan Wondra

During their Tuesday session, the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the renewal of a one-year contract between the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau and Absolute Computer Design for 22 webcams across Chaffee County. The webcam contract and its lens raise questions not only about their purpose and how much tourism this county can withstand, but possibly unintended consequences related to privacy and the impact of cameras in rural areas and wild.

The Arkansas Hills east of Salida with Tenderfoot Mountain above the city. The contract covers at least one webcam at the top of Tenderfoot and at least 22 in Chaffee County. Photo EcoFlight.

The $ 20,000 contract is an agreed amount of $ 1,000 / per webcam covering 20 webcams, with two free webcams and unlimited deployment of more webcams.

The cameras broadcast real-time images every five minutes – around the world.

“The cameras are funded by the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau and it’s our most popular web page,” says Scott Peterson, marketing manager for the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau. “The cameras take a still image every five minutes and are posted on the website. The user can then click on the image for a full screen live view. “

If your family is walking along the Arkansas River near the boat ramp in Salida, hike the Whipple Trail, walk along F St., relax by the hot springs on Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort you may want to smile because your image can be broadcast across the world. You say you are at the top of “S” mountain? You could also be in front of the camera.

The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau site broadcasts images as far as Iceland and Australia, Siam or Siberia, Tanzania or Timbuktu. At the moment, according to the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau website, there are at least 25 web cameras spread across this valley. Over the past few weeks, webcam locations have been spotted at:

  • The Base Lodge, Base Zone, and Little Joe on Monarch Mountain
  • Main Street in Buena Vista
  • The Surf Hotel
  • Buena Vista Whitewater Park
  • Whipple Trail and Arkansas River
  • US 24 south and north near Brown Dog in Buena Vista
  • Mountain “S” to the south and west of Salida
  • Three different angles of the Salida Whitewater Park, all around the SteamPlant
  • West and East of US 50, the camera is located at Jeep ATV Tour Rentals
  • View from the Mount Princeton Conference Center; two 400-foot slides and a view of the infinity pool
  • View of the Chaffee County Visitor Center in Poncha Springs

These three cameras appear to be road condition cameras:

  • At the top of the Monarch Pass
  • Red light on US 285 outside Buena Vista
  • On the Col de Poncha

Two cameras on the roof and the clock face at Pinon Real Estate, on the southeast corner of 2nd and F Street in Salida. Photo by Merrell Bergin.

Chaffee County first implemented web cameras two years ago, hosted by According to Peterson, the county is adding cameras, “where we can find remarkable views and a good lodging location. All sites need a good internet connection and good power. “

He explained that three cameras are point-tilt-zoom cameras that he can control remotely and create a tour. The county is working on a public relations campaign to get news channels to use them.

The question of privacy

Whether or not you think his body in a swimsuit is camera-worthy or not, or if you want your little one’s image to be shown on those cameras when he’s nearby, doesn’t seem be a personal choice. The cameras are not tagged, and there is no public signage warning those walking the alleys or streets of Chaffee County, or walking our trails, that they are on camera. Those filmed are clearly a key part of the county’s tourism effort.

This seems to raise privacy issues. Do we give rights to their faces simply by being present in these areas? Should people be informed that they are in front of the camera, or at least that cameras are present?

A camera located on the communications service dependency on top of Tenderfoot Mountain. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.

Advocates of webcams say that in our time people should be expected to be in front of the camera, wherever they go. They cited street cameras in New York, London and Paris as examples of general surveillance. There is an important difference between the majority of the thousands of cameras on the streets of London and these webcams: these images are recorded for public safety in these metropolitan areas, not for tourism, and they do not appear to be broadcast anywhere in the world. world.

It should be noted that in order to create marketing material, any legitimate marketing organization or advertising agency must have the rights to the images they use in print materials or videos, as well as the voice rights for use in. diffusion. or bought. The use of images in journalism follows the rule that we credit the source that took the photo if the image is free, get approval from the entity that took the photo (or pay a fee) for that it is used.

By ownership, the webcam images appear to belong to the county, which holds the contract. But if images of visitors and residents of Chaffee County are used to market this county without their knowledge or approval, what do we think? Is this reasonable?

Chaffee Tourism; How much promotion is enough – or too much?

The contract is held on behalf of departmental tourism. According to the contract: “The 2021 plan is to continue to develop new sites and modernize existing sites. Partner rights include streaming on their websites, use of simulcasting; ColoradoWebCams owns all the hardware, pays for all feeds, and keeps the systems running smoothly. “

The contract goes on to say, “We are not limiting the number of webcams deployed and streamed. The contract price is set at around $ 1,000 per webcam per year. We are reducing the price to 20 Cams for this year. SITES (22): Salida Anderson (2) Poncha Springs (2) Salida Pinion (2) Salida Steam Plant (3) Salida Tenderfoot (3) River Runners (1) BV Surf Area (3) BV Entrance (2) BV PTZ Tour (1) BV Museum (3).

Asked about their knowledge of these webcams, Kim Marquis, Envision Chaffee County Project and Outreach Coordinator, said, “I don’t know what these webcams are for. We have not discussed it and have no position. Are they on public land, are they used for recreation surveillance, or what? Who hosts them? “

Marquis said she had heard about forest fire monitoring with webcams and that “the Central Colorado Conservancy had a program where they tracked animal migrations and species presence in certain areas, but I believe on conservation easements or private lands. ”

Clearly, like Voice of the Ark Valley reported, tourism is the bread and butter of our economy and businesses are profiting from promoting this valley. An unanswered tourist question concerns a recent survey that included a major finding that residents of Chaffee believe the county is ‘loved to death’. There are growing concerns about the overuse of natural resources, from rivers to mountain trails to popular tourist spots like St. Elmo.

Marquis added that “Envision is working on this issue in the space of creating the Chaffee Recreation Plan, which has a triple focus of maintaining outdoor experiences and natural resources while supporting the economic benefits of recreational tourism.

Featured Image: The Salida SteamPlant webcams. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.

Editor’s Note: AVV reporters Tara Flanagan and Brooke Gilmore also contributed to this story.

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