Coronavirus has led to record crowds on Colorado’s public lands and plenty of “knucklehead” situations |

Coronavirus has led to record crowds on Colorado’s public lands and plenty of “knucklehead” situations

Don't be that guy: Put out fires, know the rules, have backup plans and be prepared.

Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun
A campfire illuminates Rebeca Wenzel, 40, left, of Mesa, Ariz., as she helps make a s'more for her niece Kayla Barreto, 21, of Huntley, Ill., while camping with their families and others at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort of Estes on June 29, 2019 near Estes Park. For seven years running, members of the Wenzel, Barreto and Munn families have gathered together at Jellystone resorts for an annual retreat. This year they rented four cabins for several days following a family member's wedding nearby.
Photo by Andy Colwell, special to the Colorado Sun

There is something called the “knucklehead factor” in the algorithm of public land management. 

While never spoken of publicly, federal land managers talk among themselves about the challenges of dealing not just with visitors who maybe are not aware of rules, but also with the ones who are irresponsible and dangerous. 

And lately, as record-setting numbers of Coloradans flood public lands, the “knucklehead factor” has grown exponentially. That means coals abandoned in fresh fire pits. Shooting in the dark. Pushing OHVs beyond trails. Walking on that log at Hanging Lake. Breaking down gates and just a general disregard for rules, signs and other humans.  

They are in the minority, those knuckleheads. But they are stressing public lands already feeling the pressure of masses urged to look to the “vast, great outdoors” as an escape from the monotony of quarantine and the stress of pandemic. 

“We are seeing normal use patterns multiplied, so we if had bad apples out there they are multiplied now,” says Aaron Mayville, the deputy forest supervisor for the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. 


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