Arapaho, Roosevelt Forests prepare for busy summer
With an increase in recreational use at the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the US Forest Service is looking at ways to help manage lands.
Officials announced Tuesday that the forest is in the process of developing a timed-entry pass system for Mount Evans and Brainard Lake. The project is still in development, but all pass sales will be at Recreation.gov beginning in late May.
Mount Evans is tentatively scheduled to open June 4 and the Brainard Lake welcome station is tentatively scheduled to open June 11.
The Forest Service added that it is working closely with local officials to target a few dispersed camping areas for temporary “day-use-only” designations this year. Recreation staff will use the opportunity to explore more sustainable options for managing these places into the future.
“For outdoor recreationists, the most important message this year is to ‘Know Before You Go,'” recreation program manager Erich Roeber said. “Just like you might plan a family vacation or research a product before purchasing, public lands visitors really need to do their homework this year before they head out on an adventure.”
2020 brought a 200% increase in outdoor recreation across Colorado’s northern Front Range, according to officials. This resulted in long lines and wait times at welcome stations, overflowing parking at trailheads, and cars parked unsafely for miles along county roads, obstructing roadways.
Wildlife interactions have also become a growing concern. The Forest Service said it is collaborating with Colorado Parks and Wildlife in developing food storage requirements for visitors.
Notably, 2020 was a year during which human-caused wildfires burned 25 percent of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Recovery is expected to take years, officials said.
As soon as the snow melts, Forest Service officials explained personnel will be heavily focused on assessing and stabilizing the burned areas; and the burned areas are expected to remain largely off limits to the public until critical road and trail stabilization needs can be addressed.
Much of Colorado is still in some degree of drought, ranging from severe to exceptional. Due to this danger, compounded by the increase in visitors, the Forest Service said it is working closely with state and local partners to determine the best time to implement fire restrictions as temperatures warm up.
Regardless of when fire restrictions go into place, the public is urged to be extremely cautious with all potential sources of ignition this year.
In addition to weather forecasts and road and trail conditions for the area, visitors should be sure to research how to buy passes, how to find campsites, and whether campfires are allowed.
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