The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down on camping rules in some parts of the state due to an issue with summer visitors reportedly starting illegal campfires and participating in illegal recreational shooting. Issues with trash and human waste being left behind at campsites has also proven problematic.
Come 2021, the Forest Service is warning visitors to the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and the Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands South Platte Ranger District to keep an eye out for designated dispersed camping sites with posted numbers indicating legal parking and camping areas. The goal is to help manage an increase in dispersed camping popularity, to improve resource conditions, and to help reduce conflicts between campers and private property owners.
“Dispersed camping has steadily increased in popularity across the Front Range as people look for dispersed camping opportunities closer to popular recreation areas.” said Brian Banks, South Platte district ranger. “That growth in use is unsustainable without a plan to protect the natural resources."
A nominal fee is also planned to be attached to the usage of these dispersed camping sites. Alongside the fees, the forest service says a select number of sites will be available for online reservations. The remaining sites will continue to be managed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The South Platte Ranger District will also be installing ADA compliant fire rings at these designated campsites to decrease the risk of wildfires. These rings will also allow for campfires during stage 1 restrictions.
Designated dispersed campsites within the South Platte Ranger District boundary in the North Rampart Range area, including Rampart Range Road (FSR 300), Jackson Creek Road (FSR 502), Longhollow (FSR 348) and Dakan Road (FSR 507), are set to a transition to a fee-based system. The new system is projected to launch in May of 2021, which will allow crews to make improvements to infrastructure and carry out maintenance on popular trails and other recreational resources.
Huge amounts of litter left behind by outdoor recreationists have been causing problems all summer. In one recent case, volunteers removed 30 pounds of beer bottles from a fourteener.
Editor's Note: You can help keep Colorado beautiful by making sure you practice Leave No Trace on each and every one of your outdoor adventures. Do your part by parking only in designated areas, staying on the trail, and packing out all your trash.