DENVER — After repeatedly cleaning up messes left behind in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) many implement a new camping fee to care for the property.
Between 2014 and 2020, crews trucked out more than 3,000 pounds of trash from the land, according to a press release on Thursday. USFS reports they also had to bury exposed human waste 1,573 times.
There’s also the issue of standard wear and tear, even from people who clean up after themselves. By Forest Service estimates that are based on data from trailheads, the number of overnight visitors more than quadrupled between 2006 and 2020, going from 4,020 to 18,324 in that time.
The proposed solution would necessitate a new fee. Visitors would pay $12 per person, per night, between May 1 and Oct. 31. This does not apply to the Maroon Bells scenic area frequented by visitors on shuttles.
If implemented, the fee would begin in 2022 for overnight permits at Conundrum Hot Springs, the “Four Pass Loop” (which includes Crater Lake and Snowmass Lake), Geneva Lake, and Capitol Lake. Additional areas in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness could require overnight permits and fees in future years, the Forest Service said.
The USFS hopes to use the money to address environmental damage, provide long-term protection, hire more rangers and improve visitor services.
Officials are looking for public feedback. Comments can be submitted online or via mail until Sept. 15. To mail in a comment, send it to:
White River National Forest
Attn: Recreation Fees
P.O. Box 309
Carbondale, CO 81623
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