Camping abuse continues to be a problem in Colorado
PIKE NATIONAL FOREST, Colo. (KDVR) – US Forest Service officials are warning people to follow the rules when camping on public land or at risk of citations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a wave of people enjoying the outdoors in Colorado. Increased traffic on National Forest lands has resulted in increased vandalism, litter, and even changes in wildlife patterns.
“We are not designed – in terms of infrastructure – or configured in terms of employees. to manage 3,000 visitors over a weekend. And the resource is certainly not able to handle this type of volume, ”said Josh Voorhis, District Ranger with South Park Ranger District in the Pike National Forest.
Scattered campsite designations
The Badger Flats area in the Pike National Forest is one of many experiencing increased use. This year, forestry officials are trying out a new method of camping to help protect the land, by setting up designated scattered camping spaces.
These spaces are marked with a post in the ground and people are not allowed to camp outside of these specified locations. Previously, campers had more freedom to choose their own campsite, often going off-road to find a new location.
“The idea was to reduce the impact on the ground, to help solve problems with wildlife and other issues,” Voorhis said.
Campers defy the rules
Voorhis said there have been issues with people not following the new guidelines. He said it’s a combination of people unaware of the change, while others simply ignore the posted signage.
“We had to move people, ask them to move. We had to name individuals who were not cooperative. We’re going to use these methods, but it’s not our first path, ”Voorhis said.
Voorhis said the traffic they are experiencing is in sync with what they saw in 2020.
A spokesperson for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests said they saw a decrease in camping use compared to last summer, likely due to heavy rains so far this season.
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