Rocky seeks comments on future planning strategies
Rocky Mountain National Park is accepting public comments on its long-term Day Use Visitor Access Strategy through July 19 to help the park determine solutions to issues caused by the recent significant increase in park visitation.
The Day Use Visitor Access Strategy is a plan Rocky officials are creating to balance preservation and conservation of the park and visitor access and experience.
“We are eager to continue engaging with our stakeholders and connect with park visitors from near and far, to help identify shared values, clarify key issues, and begin to develop potential management strategies to help the park prepare for our long-term day use strategy,” Park Superintendent Darla Sidles said. “We hope to hear from current park visitors as well as those who have told us they no longer visit Rocky Mountain National Park because of crowding and congestion.”
The plan is different from recent short-term policies implemented at Rocky, including the timed entry reservation permit system and managed access in the highly congested areas of Bear Lake Road, the Alpine Visitor Center and Wild Basin.
Public comments can be made online at parkplanning.nps.gov/ROMO_Duvas or mailed to 1000 US Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517.
Comments are requested to focus on which experiences are important, what issues interfere with the park experience, how to protect the park resources, what the park is doing well and strategies for managing visitor use.
Since 2012, Rocky Mountain National Park has seen a 44% increase in visitors, with 2019 seeing record visitation of 4.5 million people. It was the third most visited national park in 2019 and the fourth in 2020, despite the timed entry reservation permit system, COVID-19 and fires closing the park.
Many key issues stem from the increased visitation, including user-created trails, facility wear and tear, difficulty accessing popular spots, illegal campfires and human waste off trail.
Increased traffic also causes concerns for air quality, illegal roadside parking, impeding park operations or emergency response and impacting wildlife migration, movement and breeding.
Rocky officials have identified three proposed zones in the park and desired conditions for each zone that the solutions can be tailored to.
Zone 1 consists of the majority of the park and is designated wilderness area, which aims to have minimally maintained and trafficked trails. Zone 2 generally encompasses formal trail corridors and trail infrastructure, though still in wilderness, with a goal of moderate traffic. Zone 3 is not wilderness and covers visitor services and developed areas with the highest concentration of people.
Proposed strategies include advanced registration or timed entry, metering at specific parking lots, area-specific temporary closures and area-specific permits.
Comments may be made public, so be aware that any personal information included, such as emails, phone numbers or addresses, could also become public.
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